The Lives of Others (2006)
January 9, 2018 3:49 PM - Subscribe

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.
posted by Fizz (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is an amazing movie.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:07 PM on January 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

It’s probably been a decade since I’ve seen this film, but it really stayed with me. Time for a rewatch.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:42 PM on January 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Time for a rewatch.

If you want to have fun, pair it with Coppola's The Conversation.
posted by Fizz at 6:56 PM on January 9, 2018 [6 favorites]

This is indeed fantastic. I ended up pairing it with Anna Funder's Stasiland because I felt like...I needed more total surveillance state in my life? In any case, I'd recommend the book as a followup to this movie.

But man, that scene in the cafeteria where the guy is telling the Honecker joke.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:14 PM on January 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

One of the most moving endings to a movie ever. It's a gorgeous film and everyone should see it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:18 PM on January 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

This movie even made the freeze frame ending work. So good.

The Berkeley theater where we first saw it had a small Stasi spy station set up in the lobby as decoration. We later visited the Stasi museum in Berlin where a few scenes were shot.
posted by migurski at 12:12 AM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

This movie is one of my favorites, and I'm happy for a reason to re-watch it.

We could use many, many more movies about the struggles of characters who remain moral within a sick system. I just watched Casablanca with Roger Ebert's commentary, and he talks about how what moves him in movies is when characters do the right thing, even when it doesn't benefit them. This movie is very moving, in that sense.

Plus the weird pun at the very, very end is amazing.
posted by Rinku at 4:54 PM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sadly, Ulrich Mühe died shortly after this picture was released. I thought his performance was extraordinary.
posted by holborne at 8:52 PM on January 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved this movie. I think of the "Fuck you I'm in the west!" joke fairly often. Sebastian Koch 💖. I need to see it again some day.

When this came out, I was at the theater to see a different movie that was showing on the same screen, after The Lives of Others. My SO and I were a little early, so we were waiting outside talking about this movie, how we wanted to see it, and we'd heard it was really good, but also really sad -- maybe too sad?

Then the doors open and people come out, and they look fucking devastated, red-eyed and staring ahead and shuffling and we were just laughing.
posted by fleacircus at 1:27 AM on January 11, 2018

Growing up in the US midwest, the Stasi and the Nazis kind of muddled around in my head as generic German bad guys. Perhaps I imagined if Anne Frank was so good at hiding then the Nazis must have decided to form the Stasi to find her? And the Cold War portion of history class mostly covered the series of containment wars in Asia, and didn't say much about events behind the Iron Curtain. All this to say, I think watching this film has cured me of any lingering association, and a deeper understanding of East Germany.

Normally this kind of political thriller has too many angles for me to track, but perhaps because the story is kind of two simple intersecting plays (a love triangle between the minister, the playwright and the actress, and the moral journey of The One Good Stasi Captain) rather than a series of subterfuges and double crossings, it wasn't too hard.

Christa-Maria's character has so very little agency in the film -- she's either an object to fight over, or a compromised pawn in a bid to save a midlevel bureaucrat's career. Obviously free will wasn't a pressing concern in Soviet states, but part of me wonders if the screenwriter's selected poetic justice for her collaboration is too severe. (also: her death scene felt kinda unemotional, probably because it was oddly quiet.)

During Jerska's funeral Dreyman says he didn't see the suicide coming. I can't quite wrap my head around that as he decided to give him false hope after his "hope is the last to die" conversation with Hempf and made a point that Jerska should not be alone at the birthday party.
posted by pwnguin at 1:36 AM on June 27

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