Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Lives of Others
As I've written before, the history and drama of the Cold War is surprisingly obscure today. As recent as it is, it seems to have slipped away from our collective memory. This is unfortunate, not simply for the sake of historical remembrance, but also because during that era, we were forced to strengthen and use spiritual resources which, since then, seem to have gotten collectively weaker among us.
With these things in mind I was very keen to seem _The Lives of Others_, a German film about life under the shadow of the Stasi, the East German secret police. The subject of the surveillance is Georg Dreyman, a prominent Socialist playwright who heretofore had been thought to be above suspicion. But the real protagonist is his Stasi minder, Wiesler, a distant, meticulous man, even among the Germans.
But it's important to realize that those facts of his nature and his past describe Herr Wiesler, they don't define him. He can still see the reality of the world outside himself, he can still choose his actions, and informed by his own conscience, he can still choose the good and reject evil. He can choose these things at his own personal cost even. In his own way, he can stand for the freedom of the playwright to write and the integrity of the relationship between the playwright and his girlfriend. But, notwithstanding these choices, and the spiritual awakening that came with them, Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler is still the same meticulous distant German that he was before. By the end of the movie, even though Dreyman is able to appreciate and acknowledge the sacrifice that Wiesler made for him, they never actually speak face to face.
As a final note, Wikipedia claims that this movie cost $2M to make yet has grossed $73M so far. This conforms to a pet theory of mine, that the audience hungers for real drama at the heart of the person and his ability to perservere in diverse or adverse circumstances. If Hollywood, or artists in general could write this drama, they would be more successful, both financially and artistically.