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Dipesh Majumdar

Blog and Paintings

Movie Review: The lives of others

December 26, 2012

In a cold and bleak environment of East Germany dating back to the 1980s, a playwright (Dreyman) and his girlfriend (Sieland) are trapped under a notorious surveillance by the German Police. This was in wake of some incidents that triggered suspicion about Dreyman by top notch officials of the Government. While the objective of this operation was to get an access to the innermost plans and mysterious intentions of Dreyman which seemed not so state-friendly, the whole mission goes haywire because the official - Wiesler, in charge of this mission, deviates from his duty and starts protecting the couple.

The pace with which the story moves forward is smooth and steady and holds the viewer's attention successfully till the end. Nothing has been overdone or left inconspicuous... just the optimum display of expressions and dialogues.

A nice story and a difficult plot has been directed with a lot of finesse and aplomb. It is a difficult time, right... but then the viewers have to be led to that gravity or seriousness and they should empathize with the grappling problems of the society at that time. And the director does exactly that... makes the viewer condemn and feel sorry for this forgetful phase in the German history where an artist's freedom of expression gets ruthlessly murdered and even the private lives of common people are snatched away. The lustful state officials molest and rob off self-respect of women with impunity and manipulate facts to fuel their political ambitions.

The buildup of this grave reality is superb through some solid performances... that which comes up above all is the role of Wiesler played by Ulrich Mühe . The way he expresses through his eyes is nerve chilling. His gradual transition from a faithful Government servant to the protector of the young couple is delivered with ease and spontaneity. The catharsis that he goes through is beautifully portrayed in one scene - when tears roll down his intense eyes as he listens to a morose play note by Dreyman. The futility of his own life emerges out and suddenly his career ambitions seem meaningless. He turns out to be a better person but then he has to go through serious difficulties as a result of this goodness.

This is one of those movies which has a sweet ending - making a complete justice to such a beautiful screenplay. It is not one of those endings that’s like a pile of bricks falling on you out of nowhere making you shriek in disgust, “Oh, what’s this crap…what the… or how the hell…” However the climax unfolds gently and gives you enough space to unwind and bask in it’s beauty. As you get up from your seat after watching this movie, you can't help but cherish a sweet sensation of satisfaction that results only after witnessing good art.

My Rating: 9/10

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