Site Network: Personal | Company | Projects | Mail Me


Common sense

Lives of Others - I

The Lives of Others (German movie with English subtitles, 2006)
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Apparently, after listening to Beethoven's Appassionata sonata, Lenin once remarked:
“I know the Appassionata inside out and yet I am willing to listen to it every day. It is wonderful, ethereal music. On hearing it I proudly, maybe somewhat naively, think: See! people are able to produce such marvels!”

He then winked, laughed and added sadly:
“I’m often unable to listen to music, it gets on my nerves, I would like to stroke my fellow beings and whisper sweet nothings in their ears for being able to produce such beautiful things in spite of the abominable hell they are living in. However, today one shouldn’t caress anybody - for people will only bite off your hand; strike, without pity, although theoretically we are against any kind of violence. Umph, it is, in fact, an infernally difficult task!”
No, The above is not from the movie, but the above quote is the inspiration for the Director Donnersmarck who wrote and directed this amazing movie.

Review: (No spoilers)

The story is set in 1984 East Germany, where the secret Govt police Stasi is actively spying on its own citizens (artists, writers etc) We see the captain Gerd Wiesler, sincerely sitting on the attic, scrupulously watching every conversation that happens in the apartment below, where writer Dreyman lives. Dreyman is unaware and life goes on. Wiesler, who is shown to be very loyal to his Government, realizes his role in the big game. This realization does not happen to him overnight, but happens very slowly. It is triggered after Wiesler finds that the top Minister sexually abuses Dreyman's mistress, and is using Wiesler to his interests.

What happens during this spying period, and how Dreyman writes an article about the suicide of artists, for a publication outside the country etc. This thriller evolves to a high point when Dreyman's mistress was asked to become an informer to the Government. For such a plot, the movie actually ends in a very surprisingly sweet ending. (Watch it!) The movie might seem a little slower in the middle, but it reaches out and disturbs us very profoundly, towards the end.

At no point in the movie, the Director resorts to the 'voice-over' to share his thoughts to the audience. Wiesler is a man of solitude and his emotions, realization, thoughts are very moving. There is a nice story-telling touch at the end, where Dreyman visits the archives and finds the red ink of his typewriter, in the last note of the archives.

The movie starts with Wiesler teaching about interrogation techniques, and ends on a completely different note! In our days, where the right wing resurgence is resorting to POTA, curbing of civil liberties, restriction to freedom of speech etc, this movie is a stark reminder for us. A reminder to show the role of artists in such a climate, in todays India.


posted by Jey @ 6:08 PM,


Post a Comment

<< Home