The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – 2006) A

When we watch a movie part of the experience is a sense of voyeurism. If it’s a good one we get involved in the story, we start caring. We want to know what will happen to the characters and develop an emotional connection. It’s the power of good movies. What happens when the subjects of observation are real people instead of characters from a script? One might get even more attached. In this gem of a film set in East Berlin in the years before the wall was brought down we meet a government agent who is exactly in this predicament. He is a Stasi agent who is very good at his job, bugging and spying on citizens suspected of crimes against the ruling party. When he is tasked with bugging the apartment of a playwright and his actress girlfriend he slowly becomes involved in what is happening. His ideology is challenged by characters he starts caring about. Corruption and injustice that he was previously blind to becomes more unnerving. The film is perfectly plotted and acted. It gives us a clear picture of the sad and tragic world that was East Germany all wrapped up in the story of one man and his decisions between right and wrong.

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