I bought the DVD two weekends ago while shopping at the local Target store. As I worked my way through the mostly crap that makes up the “New Releases” section I spotted the movie and of course brought it home with me.
Making time to sit down and watch movies, a favorite pastime of mine, seems to get harder and harder.
Well, it was certainly worth the wait.
The movie takes place in East Berlin during the early 80’s and it’s about the infamous German secret police known as the Stasi and its network of spies, spied-on, compromised and oppositional people at the time.
After watching a theater performance Bruno Hempf, the Culture Minister, orders a Stasi agent named Weisler to begin conducting a 24 hour surveillance operation on playwright Georg Dreyman, who is a famous, respected figure in East German society and whose play they were carefully watching. Far from being a subversive writer, he is the total opposite of the “suspects” usually targeted by the Stasi.
Hempf’s motive in going after Dreyman are due to amorous not political reasons, he is actually interested in Dreyman’s actress girlfriend Christa-Maria.
So, after Dreyman’s apartment is fully planted with bugs Weisler begins to listen in.
There are a series of events that unfold afterwards that result in the deep politicization of all three main characters who delve into survival mode as outside forces close in and their lives begin to spiral out of control.
One of the most powerful aspects of the movie is Weisler’s transformation from being a cold, heartless, Stasi officer to a person who is humanized by the experience of spying on artists, he is deeply affected by being in close contact with them and witnessing their plight which he was partly responsible for.
The Lives Of Others is a political thriller but it is much more than that. It is a magnificent study of human nature. It is a complex drama that packs a mighty emotional wallop throughout. There are many twists in the movie’s plot and it is filled with brilliant performances across the board.