or Das Leben der Anderen
In 1984 in East Germany the secret police, or Stasi were everywhere, watching everything. This film details the activities of one officer, Wiesler, as he monitored a popular playwright. Wiesler doesn’t believe that Dreyman could possibly be as pro the party as he makes out. Too arrogant. So he suggests keeping him under surveillance, just in case. His superior officer doesn’t agree, at first, but then Minister Bruno Hempf mentions that perhaps he isn’t such a fan, and that perhaps Dreyman isn’t a favourite. It turns out that Hempf is more than interested in Dreyman’s girlfriend, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland, and so would like nothing better than to remove his rival by having him arrested and taken away.
But Dreyman writes plays that are acceptable and even in favour of the Party. Of course he is the “artistic” sort, and so is suspect, but he has received state honours and has found much favour with the government.
Not all his friends and colleagues are so lucky. And a close friend, the director Jerska, is driven to suicide after being “blackballed” for several years. This prompts Dreyman into action. He begins to research the suicide rates in East Germany and discovers that statistics about suicides are no longer collected by the state, presumably because the figures are so high. So he decides to write an article for publication in the West. By this stage however his every move is being watched, and listened to. Weisler has more than enough evidence to have him brought in, yet he doesn’t.
This really is a fantastic film. I wasn’t too sure at first. I had heard of it before I went to see it, but didn’t really know what it was about. I’m so glad that it was on at just the right time though. It is perfectly written, perfectly acted and just an all round great film.
I don’t want to say too much and risk ruining anything, but if you get a chance I would highly recommend you go see this film. It is both depressing and uplifting at the same time. A much grimmer depiction of spying than anything you’ll see Bond get up to, this works as both a political commentary on what East Germany must have been like, but also as a look at a man who suddenly seems to discover his humanity and emotion. A beautiful film.