The Lives of Others (2006)

“An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered. He will shout and rage. A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries. He knows he’s there for a reason. The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation.” – Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler

Number of Times Seen – 1 (4 Jun 2018)

Brief Synopsis – A member of the German secret police starts to get too involved in the lives of the people he must keep surveillance on.

My Take on it – This is a film that I have had some interest in seeing even since it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film over a decade ago, but due to the fact that it’s in German, I stayed away.

The fact that I am now trying to expand my horizons and watch more foreign language films is the main reason that I finally “took the plunge”.

This film has a great premise that works quite well throughout most of the film.

The idea that a policeman keeping “tabs” on someone could conceivably get too involved with their lives is a conceivable premise and it comes across really well here even to the point where it might affect his own opinions of those people and the system in general.

This film does an exceptional job showing how in depth the investigations of the German secret police were and in some ways it’s quite scary seeing the lengths they would go to to “prove” someone was going against the communist system.

I guess the fact that I grew up and live in Western society makes it more difficult for me to completely understand the importance of such control and observation of ordinary citizens.

The fact that this film doesn’t manage to also give us a satisfactory answer to such a question is slightly disappointing.

Perhaps, after all, there is no logical answer to this question and we’ll never quite find a way to comprehend it.

The methods shown of how the police treat people suspected of wrongdoings or even their neighbors or acquaintances is extremely chilling to watch since we easily see how this affects them all and adds to the fear that they all feel.

Bottom Line – Very interesting idea that works almost the entire time. The way that they show how in depth the secret police would keep an eye on people during the dark days of Communism is quite scary and the fact that a job like this could affect someone into changing his opinions on people and the system works quite well.  As a Westerner, it’s hard for me to completely understand why there is a need for such constant control and observation and that maybe part of what slightly disappointed me because even a story like this doesn’t give us a satisfactory answer to such a question…perhaps there is no logical answer. The methods used against those suspected of wrongdoing or even their neighbors is such a foreign concept and despite that it is quite chilling watching that take place here. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – All the listening/recording props used in the film are actual Stasi equipment on loan from museums and collectors. The props master had himself spent two years in a Stasi prison and insisted upon absolute authenticity down to the machine used at the end of the film to steam-open up to 600 letters per hour. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)


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6 thoughts on “The Lives of Others (2006)

  1. This is an absolute favourite of mine. The characters are so complex and well-developed that it’s easy to become invested in, but Wiesler’s crisis of conscience and confidence in the system he has believed in unquestioningly is an awakening anyone can identify with.

    Liked by 1 person

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