The Lives of Others
Set in East Berlin, in 1984 – no doubt a reference to Orwell’s classic tale of state controlled repression – The Lives of Others takes a look at life lived under constant fear.
Focussing on line toeing playwright Georg Dreyman and his girlfriend, actress Christa-Maria Sieland, Lives sets up a story that shows how farcical the Communist system was, when paranoid politics decide to place two of their most loyal subjects under surveillance, in order to try and find something to convict them of.
But things do not go as planned as what could have easily been a dreary story of oppression turns it’s self into a magical look at how music can connect with our soul, and re-birth within us a faith that has long been lost.
The irony is that the music in question, Beethoven’s Sonata for a Good Man, so passionately awakens both Dreyman and eavesdropper Gerd Wiesler’s spirits, causing them both to turn their backs on the system they once served.
Dreyman proves that surveillance was indeed necessary as he pens an exposé for a West German Magazine, and Wiesler reveals an amazing talent at writing fiction as he turns a blind eye to the events that could see him promoted, instead submitting fictional reports to protect Dreyman, and in turn find redemption for what ever sins he may have committed in the past.
To say that Lives is a sweet and joyous movie however would be a lie, nothing ever goes totally to plan, and people it seems, always have to pay a price for freedom.
What Lives is, is a well paced and constructed movie that keeps the viewer focussed on the story through compelling characters, tight direction and avoiding nasty clichés.
Beautifully dreary in its cinematography, it conjurors up visually the repressiveness of the time and creates an ambiance that supports the story being told.
As serious a movie as it is, Lives still finds room for passion, humanity and if you’ve got sharp eyes, the occasional moment of humour.
Food for thought
Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul – Plato
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Contains Sex Scenes.
Duration: 133 mins.
Genre: Foreign, German.
Actors: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Tukur, Ulrich Muehe, Sebastian Koch, Hans Uwe Bauer, Mathias Brenner, Volkmar Kleinert, Thomas Thieme.
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
Release Date: Available Now.