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Das Leben der Anderen (2006)
Excellent base, mediocre story
Firstly, as I see, most of the good things are already written down in other comments, so I guess I'm the one who pulls this down a bit. Yes, now, just after seeing this, I guess it's a bit over-hyped. But that's a good thing.
Please note that I live in Hungary (you know, highest suicide rates... even after 20 years, we still are in the top 10) so I've seen a lot of films dealing with agents, stasi, both dramas, comedies, or comedic dramas. Because of this, maybe I've seen this film a bit differently.
For an average movie-goer, where Lives of Others mostly fails is the original, film-like dramatic storytelling. Most of the plot twists can be guessed. Supporting characters, and even some not-so-supporting, are one-dimensional. Dreyman remains totally uninteresting. But surprisingly, in this movie, this is the part, that is the less important one.
Lives of Others is probably the one, and icon-like movie every post-communist country should make, not for the global market, but for themselves. Dealing, and accepting the past, that the dictatorial system wasn't built up of some leaders, not even party members, but thousands of people, is a trauma, that we couldn't accept until now. Where Lives of Others truly shines, is the completeness of the story. Revealing all the sides, all the emotions, figures and personalities around an institution like the STASI, and this is the point. Not the actual story.
I'm glad that it had an impact like this in the USA - as anyone can read from comments, most of the Americans taught that a communist nation was an absurd, funny, sometimes hard, but overall likable system. I truly hope this movie will shed some light on something else.
Please give a minute thinking of the fact, that in these countries lived millions of Dreymans.