luni, 1 mai 2023

Das Leben der Anderen aka The Lives of Others by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – one of the Top Rated Movies, placed at 58, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language, BAFTA, Cesar, a total of eighty awards - 10 out of 10


Das Leben der Anderen aka The Lives of Others by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – one of the Top Rated Movies, placed at 58, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language, BAFTA, Cesar, a total of eighty awards

10 out of 10



This is such a magnificent, monumental motion picture that even if the subject is avoided by this cinephile, it is still an exalting, exuberant experience to watch it the second time…since I have lived on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, art dedicated to communism does not appeal, on the contrary, I skip the oeuvres that center on it, DDR was paradise, when compared with the Ceausescu regime, or at least it was thought so.


Let me brag upfront and give you this link which has the copy of a page from Newsweek, written by their correspondent, who came to Bucharest to cover the fall of the Ceausescu regime, a collapse to which I have brought my own, small contribution, tiny perhaps, but probably the most important act of my life, if we place it in perspective.

It has not transformed my own existence – there is pride connected with the presence among the protesters that faced the retaliation of the repressive regime, on December 21, in the Roman Square, where Andrei Finti was our leader (a hero that has no statue, though he deserved eternal, massive gratitude) but I must confess that I have also had regrets connected with the aftermath, and the lack of ‘compensation’


There have been many fraudsters, hooligans, crooks, scoundrels, fools that have claimed and received the ‘revolutionary certificate’, and with that a series of financial and other privileges and benefits, and though I can understand that it looked so embarrassing, shameful to join this cohort of fakes, and benefit from a heroic act, still, I would have been one of the very few that deserved some recognition.

I had not watched the events unfold on the television screen, as most of the beneficiaries of the revolution (who had special tax [I think it was no tax in fact] status, received property, the right to take over commercial space and so on, reached the heights of economic, social, political life) had done, on the contrary, I had taken to the streets and faced ‘the music’, potential catastrophic consequences, and I have nothing material to show for that, except for that article, and the memories I have of the brave stand


This later aspect could be the most important, and I should be aware that even with much more money, there is the Hedonic Adaptation phenomenon, the lottery winners experiment and it is not cash that makes us so much happier.


The story line of The Lives of Others is too familiar, and that was one reason I have mentioned that I stay away from the communist subject – indeed, there is more than an adversity for the left wing humans, seeing that we have had the ‘chance’ to live under the left (extreme, but still left) and could see what atrocities it can cause – with one of the nomenclature falling for a woman he likes and trying to have her.

A minister wants the STASI to find dirt on Georg Dreyman (the actor in the role is wondrous Sebastian Koch) a famous writer, who is intimate with the actress Christa –Maria Sieland – the actress is the fabulous Martina Gedeck, admired in another one of the best films in decades The Baader Meinhof Complex -  Christa Maria is the ‘trophy’ that the apparatchik wants to get in his paws, and for that he is willing to use all his power, abusing and if need be taking the STASI into the home of the author, to get the proves of illegal activity


Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler – portrayed by excellent Ulrich Muhe - is placed in charge of the spying operation, with microphones placed around the home, agents listening in and making reports on the sexual acts, conversations, with the goal of finding the proof of ‘activities against the state’, but without success for quite some time, for people were aware of the continuous spying, the huge network of collaborators…

Albert Jerska, a friend of Georg Dreyman, had been blacklisted and since that meant the end of his productive life, losing the sense of meaning, the artist committed suicide, DDR being one of the countries with the highest rate – was it second only to Hungary – and the regime had decided to stop publishing the numbers…Dreyman and his friends decide to send a letter to Der Spiegel, in the West, taking huge risks.


This was a very dangerous stand, it would be the equivalent of treason, and the punishment would be decades in prison, maybe life, and when they prepare the ground, they try to test and see if the STASI listens in what happens in the home of the writer, pretending they plan an escape with the car, at a specific border point – with the agents spying, they were sure that the car would be stopped, only it is not.

It is because Gerd Wiesler is becoming a ‘turncoat’, he moves to the right side, and instead of reporting to his loathsome superiors, he fabricates reports that have no mention of the dissidents and their plans (spoiler alert) with the result that the article that is attacking the policies of the communist state is smuggled and published, with the secret police trying to find another weak spot, using the drug addiction of the actress against her


There are also a couple of jokes, we had versions of those in the countries of the Eastern Block, with the leader of the local commies talking to…the sun – with Honecher, the sun salutes, until the end of the day, when he says kiss my ass, I am in the West now, while our local version had Ceausescu saluted by what he thought is the sun, playing to his vanity and accepted because of his immense stupidity, until he gets the answer from the ‘sun’: good day comrade Ceausescu, my name is Manu, lieutenant Sun has been replaced…

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