Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Lives of Others, pt II

In _The Lives of Others_, the conduct of the Stasi was petty and cruel, but never barbarous. I suspect this was done by design, but even if it was by accident, the effect is the same.

The viewer is never revolted by the events in the movie to the point where he must turn away from the screen to recover his own bearing. Because we, the audience, can safely pay our attention to the story in front of us, we can appreciate the content at a deeper, less abstract level. It's not just that most of us are fully capable of the various cruelties of the Stasi, but actually more hopeful than that. We are also capable of the heroic subterfuge of Herr Wiesler as well, which we feel all the more acutely because we feel the same dread at the risk of discovery that he did. To that end, we can forgive the producers some historical inaccuracies.

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