Movie Review: The Lives of Others (2006)

Chilling reminder of the essence of Eastern Bloc tyranny 10/10

Lives_of_Others“A great socialist once said, writers
are engineers of the soul.”

The Lives of Others (Leben der Anderen, Das) won last year’s (2006) Oscar for best foreign-language film. Deservedly so, and I regret I have only just this week have managed to view the DVD.

It is set in Berlin, East Germany (GDR) roughly five years before the collapse of The Wall, a period when few ordinary residents of that glorious communist paradise imagined they would ever be free of its soul-deadening, omnipresent yoke.

An aspiring Stasi (East German secret police) true believer in the supremely ordered perfection of this grandiose yet drab insane asylum, Herr Hauptmann Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) wants to do the right thing.  Wiesler is a poor imitation of Andre Taganov in Ayn Rand’s We the Living: he believes in his heart socialism can work. By rooting out defectors, enablers of defectors, and sundry critics of the ideal society, he’s doing “the Lord’s business”—the lord of regimented collectivism. Continue reading