Back in 1984, we Americans were patting ourselves on the back for
avoiding the bleak fate predicted in George Orwell's 1984.
Apple even made a famous Super Bowl
ad about it; the biggest threat to our liberties
was overuse of IBM PCs and compatibles.
But in East Germany, they were living 1984. A corrupt and bankrupt state
spent enormous resources seeking out and punishing disloyalty in all
This movie revolves around three main characters caught up in that:
Georg Dreyman, a
regime-favored playwright; his girlfriend/actress Christa; and Wiesler, the Stasi
functionary assigned to dig up dirt on Dreyman.
I watch a lot of by-the-numbers movies; given the premise and the genre,
you can pretty much guess the broad outlines of how the movie will
proceed. I don't mind that much, because even predictable movies can be
But The Lives of Others is completely detached from formula;
there are multiple unpredictable twists in plot and character. It's
impeccably acted and intelligently shot. It's a tad long at 137 minutes,
but it doesn't feel padded; everything's in place for a reason.
I won't go into further details; I recommend you see this movie knowing
as little as possible about what happens. As I type, it's number 70 on
IMDB's top-250 movies of all time; usually when a recent movie shows up
on that list, I scoff. In this case, however, I'm saying: "Yeah, maybe."
It received the Oscar for last year's best foreign movie.
I note that Ulrich Mühe, the actor who played Wiesler,
passed away last month. That's a shame.
2007-09-04 6:00 PM EDT
Last Modified 2012-10-17 3:11 PM EDT