A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
Gerd Wiesler is an officer with the Stasi, the East German secret police. The film begins in 1984 when Wiesler attends a play written by Georg Dreyman, who is considered by many to be the ultimate example of the loyal citizen. Wiesler has a gut feeling that Dreyman can't be as ideal as he seems, and believes surveillance is called for. The Minister of Culture agrees but only later does Wiesler learn that the Minister sees Dreyman as a rival and lusts after his partner Christa-Maria. The more time he spends listening in on them, the more he comes to care about them. The once rigid Stasi officer begins to intervene in their lives, in a positive way, protecting them whenever possible. Eventually, Wiesler's activities catch up to him and while there is no proof of wrongdoing, he finds himself in menial jobs - until the unbelievable happens. Written by
Memories of the 70's and 80's visits in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) flood my mind while watching this film. Some are revolting, some comical and others are frightening. As a student of German, I visited the GDR several times to see pen pal friends. I remember one friend looking around and whispering to me in the S-Bahn - just in case one of the many "IM's" (unofficial workers of the Stasi) was listening in.
I visited a representative of a magazine for western countries about the GDR and spent one memorable weekend sightseeing with her. Near the end of my visit, she asked me if I would work for them regularly by writing my opinion of "GDR Review" and its suitability for readers in the West. I would be paid in GDR money to use during further visits. After politely refusing this "offer" ("The police at home might not like it!"), I always had a sneaking suspicion that that was an attempt by the Stasi to recruit me.
Years later I applied to see my "Stasi File". I will never forget the feeling deep inside me when I read in it: ". .is not suitable for our use due to his apparent connection to the police in his homeland." The beautiful, friendly lady in Dresden had been a Stasi informer all the time! All of my visits to the GDR and the people I visited were listed in that file. For me "The Lives of Others" is an authentic representation of that totalitarian state. I am glad that those times have ended.
Congratulations on a well deserved Oscar!
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