Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Recommended viewing

If you have the time, I recommend a new German film currently showing in cinemas across Australia: The Lives of Others.

Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the film created huge interest in Germany when it premiered last year and has since gone on to win a stack of prizes, including the Oscar for best foreign language picture.

Set in the old German Democratic Republic in 1984, it tells the story of a loyal senior Stasi officer, Captain Gerd Wiesler, who agrees to a request by his superior to spy on a leading playwright, Georg Dreyman.

Nothing terribly unusual there: the super-efficient Stasi kept meticulous files on millions of East Germans, ranging from ordinary citizens to intellectuals suspected of “anti Socialist tendencies”.
They were so good at what they did, the Stasi was sent to train secret police forces all over the old Soviet empire, including Cuba.

In the film, Dreyman is a supposedly loyal foot soldier of the Communist Party: popular with and trusted by the higher echelons of the regime, allowed to travel overseas every now and then, given a luxury apartment and other little "extras" ... You know, the East German equivalent of a Pablo Milanes?

Still, there are some doubts about our playwright and his live-in girlfriend, a leading actress, Christa-Maria.
So, in goes the Stasi ...

I won’t tell you much more about the film except that the director has managed to capture the greyness, the lack of hope and the repressive (and depressive) nature of what was a putrid regime.

Of course, the whole system came tumbling down just five years later with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Still, you will be thrilled to hear that the spirit of the Stasi lives on. In Cuba. As you can read here.


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5:38 pm  

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