Probably the best film i have seen in many years although i am quite fond of the French film Tell No One in spite of it going rather daft at the very end. The Lives Of Others is set in East Germany in the time of the Cold War. Apart from, for me anyway, the slightly soppy scenes and tiresome shagging (that seems to go on far too long) it’s totally brilliant.
It has real dramatic tension and surprising sympathy in that we are ultimately empathising with all the people involved and see the story from each of their viewpoints. Plus for a child of the Cold War like me, and even if you’re not, it’s very interesting to see the inside of a Stasi Headquarters and how the Stasi operated. Some very weird stuff transpires about their methods.
Add to that the absolutely gorgeous sets and furniture and design of that time eg. the flat of the couple involved although obviously they are pretty well off compared to other people there at the time. Also we see the housing blocks that they and others live in including other apartments and other people’s stories.
nb. Small spoiler alert: If you are a sensitive soul there is a bit of a sting in the tale although ultimately an upbeat ending..
We see a City, East Berlin?, too, all of which is totally unknown to anyone this side of the curtain, or should i say wall, at that time. May i say that was some day to live through when that wall came down. One of the happier days in history..
My Newspaper The Independent describes it as follows:
(I would say who wrote this review however it is not specified.)
***** (Five stars which i think is it’s highest accolade)
(by Director) Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
“The Lives of Others is a slow burning but utterly compelling political thriller and human drama about a Stasi agent who takes a too-close interest in the lives of a dramatist and an actress whom he has under surveillance. As evocative as it is damning, it’s a film about the culture of paranoia and surveillance in early-Eighties East Germany.”