The Lives of others

The Stasi, notorious in its ability to wrestle all critical words or even gestures to the ground for the “security of the state”, until the Berlin Wall came down.

The Russian Soviet Union had more reason to worry about rivalry in East-Germany than anywhere-else: A region full of radicals of all kinds, German (not Russian), thus less sense of allegiance to the state and nation. Artists, due partly to their pretentiousness, significantly to genuine concern, seldom had nice thoughts about the state and its signification component: The Stasi.

The lives of others; following a man hailed as the best, most important writer in East-Germany: Dreyman is his name. An agent, agent HGW XX/7, Hauptmann Gerd Wieslernot, convinced that he is not ‘clean’, prompts reason to begin a surveillance operation against him.


When we think of dystopian novels and culture, the state looks as though it was in full control of all and that all complied. The reality is different. Those that really believed in socialism were easily dis-illusioned with the state, causing distress among the central committee; some were opposed to the idea and caused equal distress; a few could not bare to be among the Stasi – or the state – for separate reasons. The reality of such an existence is far more complicated than it seems.

The movie creeps us by revealing the inner nuances of the Stasi. Not all complied, some for radical different reasons from others. Perhaps, at times, the agent was less willing to hand support than those who he monitored for the ‘security of the state’.

The greyness, the forced and willing compliance, the battle of words and meaning exist throughout Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck’s – director and writer of the movie – master-piece.


The ambient of the reel exist in the word of artists – suffering from the strict codes of the “black cloud” of the central committee. We realise: The centres of power easily managed to use their influence to steer events, people, ideas in directions that reached the realm of self-interest, causing, often, a even stronger repression of ideas. See: It is easier to play the game of identifying one as the enemy of “our values” than creating a team of supporters that wear your colours, openly – this would be closer to the truth, of course.

Dreyman is in a relationship with the most famous actress in that region. His circles consist largely of artists, film-makers and writers. His life becomes riddled with the despair of his peers – a melancholic sadness underneath the smiles and success stinking gestures.

Not a word, a phrase goes un-noticed by the state. Or does it ?

Rating: 8.8/10


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