Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Lives of Others: A magnificent film

Although this film has received dozens of awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, it unfortunately doesn't have such a big circulation across the major cinema chains, at least in Australia.

The Lives of Others is a gripping and tense film set against the backdrop of life in East Berlin in the so called German Democratic Republic. The central story is fictional, but the themes and culture of the period in East Germany, suffering after 40 years of communist rule, are brilliantly displayed by this film;

The way the socialist regime had a massive monolithic bureaucracy that intrudes into everybody's personal lives, the menacing Stasi (State Security) who would intrude into any home without warrants to spy on them, the way artists and writers and intellectuals were seen as a threat by the Party and how freedom of speech was no concern, the massive corruption and abuse of power by the party elite and of course, the fear and oppression that the system created in the minds of the millions who lived behind the iron curtain. In 1977, the suicide rate in East Germany had reached one of the highest levels of any state in Europe, so in true socialist fashion, the Party stopped publishing figures on suicide rates, and banned journalists from writing about it.

What becomes evident is how The Party existed and functioned simply to serve The Party - to expand its powers, to crush opposition and dissent, to find out who wrote subversive articles for Western newspapers, to interrogate random citizens and force confessions out of them, to promote those loyal to The Party and demote those who are disloyal or neutral.

Go see this movie, it easily gets 9/10 from me.

( Last week I saw both Spiderman-3 and Breach - both decent films, so I'd give them each 7.5/10 )