Let’s Go to the Movies: Week of January 18, 2021 – The Lives of Others

Need a little thrill? Watch this 2006 German drama film written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The plot is about the monitoring of East Berlin residents by agents of the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police.

Here are some reviews (from Wikipedia):

A. O. Scott, in The New York Times, wrote that Lives is well-plotted, and added, “The suspense comes not only from the structure and pacing of the scenes, but also, more deeply, from the sense that even in an oppressive society, individuals are burdened with free will. You never know, from one moment to the next, what course any of the characters will choose.”

Los Angeles Times movie critic Kenneth Turan agreed that the dramatic tension of the film comes from being “meticulously plotted”, and that “it places its key characters in high-stakes predicaments where what they are forced to wager is their talent, their very lives, even their souls.” The movie “convincingly demonstrates that when done right, moral and political quandaries can be the most intensely dramatic dilemmas of all.”

Lisa Schwarzbaum, writing in Entertainment Weekly, pointed out that some of the subtlety in the film is due to the fact that “one of the movie’s tensest moments take place with the most minimal of action” but that the director still “conveys everything he wants us to know about choice, fear, doubt, cowardice, and heroism.”

You can read more about the story here.