The Lives Of Others Can Tell You What Life Was in The Republic of East Germany
"A must watch, best film on life in GDR"
Overall rating: 8.3/10
The Lives of Others, a German language movie, is a film on snooping around. I have heard and read on Quora that to know how life was in East Germany before unification, you must see this movie. Needless to say, the script is written to show how civilians were affected by the strict Socialist rule. This time, the perspective of artists/writers and specifically a playwright is one of the main characters.
What it does better?- Script does not make the victims the protagonist. That would make for highly biased viewing. The protagonist is the Official doing the snooping around. And who develops a conscience for the right. This allows for a much neutral perspective.
The script is on spying on others - this time done by the Government of East Germany on its people.
Acting & Dialogue: 8.7/10
The star cast is mainly from German/European cinema and personally, I've never encountered any familiar faces. I'll refer to the actors by their characters. The woman who is the stage actress Sieland in the film is a star in the film. She plays the drug -addicted, cheating and weak girlfriend who never picks the right choices. The portrayal of this character is absolutely brilliant.
You can't go without praising the cast representing the protagonist and the playwright. Both have played a very diligent part. They both seem very comfortable in their roles and it shows off in their performance.
Humor? The sense of humor in such a serious film is rare. But there are the moments where the senior officials joke about with the juniors - that will bring out a chuckle for sure.
A great deal of empathy is shown by the direction to reflect the hardships in East Germany- constant snooping, sexual favors demanded. The creative folks are the most affected and also the bravest.
Masterstroke? -The director's masterstroke has been his unveiling of the protagonist, who is the snooper snooping around. The unraveling of emotions and growing conscience in the character is very impressively directed by the director.
The pace of the film is kept slow. It's as if the director wanted to make the film as it would have been in the era of the film - the 80s.
Soundtrack & Film Score: 8.7/10
It's not common I write on the film score in European / American movies. My reviews on soundtrack/film score are normally reserved for Bollywood movies where songs are in abundance or also for horror movies (film score only, no songs!)
But in Lives of Others, the playwright who is snooped upon has his inspirations of courage from Western classical. He even plays the piano and the film score is beautiful during the love scenes. And also in the solo contemplation scenes where the playwright is alone at home.
Best part about Film Score? In one of the scenes, the playwright plays the piano and is unknowingly snooped upon by the protagonist. Both get inspired by the music-
-playwright to write his controversial play
-protagonist who develops a conscience and a heart.
Overall Rating: 8.3/10
Lives of Others is a gritty film. Even emotions that are expressed are very repressed. You won't get much emotional pleasure out of watching this. It isn't made for that.
Who is this film for? For those who don't mind sad endings which are common in European cinemas. Personally I hate sad endings and that's why I love Indian and American movies- the positive climax.
Should you still watch it? Yes it's a great film to know good can exist even in the most strict and unrelenting environments.
Personal note: Watch it with a group of friends. This is not a date movie. It's quite a serious film.