Movie Review: No 58. The Lives of Others

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Movie Review: No 58. The Lives of Others

Those who know me know that I am a big fan of colour. I love colour. Colour makes me happy. Watching over 2 hours of “50 shades of brown and grey” does not. Although, for those playing at home, there are plenty of sex scenes (if you’re into that kind of thing!)

You’ve gotta give it to them… the many slight variations of brown and grey in this supposedly ‘colour’ film would rival a Dulux paint chart. It’s almost as bleak as the detox diet I started this week.

The film is set in the 80s. I was born in the 80s and I distinctly remember it being a colourful era. Not so for the poor East Germans…

The first thing I notice about the film (apart from its sepia tinge) is the mention of our wedding day – September 28. An East German secret police agent is interrogating a suspect about a neighbour’s escape to the West on September 28. 40 hours of grueling interrogation later, the suspect is broken. I hope Andy realises that if he attempts to escape on September 28 there will be far more dire consequences than the East German Secret Police could have ever possibly imagined. And it wouldn’t take 40 hours for me to break him either šŸ˜›

The next thing I notice is that the star of our film resembles a German Kevin Spacey. He will later be joined by a German Kym Gyngell. Goody!

Later, I notice a man sitting alone at a birthday party reading a book and it takes me back to my own 21st birthday party where a guest from overseas (who I met while on exchange in Canada) did exactly the same, odd thing.

These are the things I pay attention to when I’m not paying attention to a film.

It is a slow film and if it weren’t for the List I probably would never have seen it through to the end. I’m glad I did though, because it’s good. It’s a dark, sobering and, no doubt, important film for Germany. Having watched ‘The Pianist‘, ‘Schindler’s List‘ and ‘Life is Beautiful‘ only recently, I’m beginning to notice another running theme doing its best to rival the gangsters. I love Germany and I find it hard to imagine that these awful things were still happening in my lifetime. But they were. But, while travelling through India recently, I met a German girl called Chris (Hi Chris if you’re reading!) who is around the same age as me and remembers living through it.

After a torturously slow journey through the oppressive World of Socialist East Germany, our friends are finally informed that the Wall has come down. I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but I half expected a technicolour ‘Land of Oz’ to appear on the other side.

Minister Hempf: What a strange new country. Nothing to rebel against, nothing to believe in.

By this stage, the film was wrapping up. The above line really reminded me that we are living in the Lucky Country and that it’s very easy to whinge when everything is going so well. This whinging culture is no more obvious than during election time. It really got me thinking…

We really should think ourselves lucky that we even have elections. I certainly believe that democracy has lost its way since the early civic-minded days, but nevertheless we’re hardly walled into oppression here. Party politics aside I am sick of hearing how badly our country is being run, and how our economy is failing. Surely you can’t be serious? We’re probably living in one of the most prosperous times ever. Why are we complaining? I think Minister Hempf, evil as he was, was onto something. When there’s nothing to rebel against, sometimes it feels like there’s nothing to believe in. I say, we should never forget how very lucky we are.

The film drew a stark contrast for me personally, between my life as it is and my life as it could have been living under such an oppressive regime. Without trying to spoil the film for you, hidden typewriters and smuggled texts play their part. Yet, here I am blogging away about whatever I damn well please! I could say Tony Abbott is a misogynist if I wanted to. I could reiterate a (rather tasteless) joke about Julia Gillard. My little brother once went to shake the hand of then Prime Minister John Howard and did the old “pull away and run your hand through your hair” routine (I lol’d). All of these things are disrespectful. None of them would have us interrogated, jailed or worse.

I don’t need to hide a typewriter or smuggle my thoughts and feelings across a border just so I can set them free. No, I can rant on about how much I hate gangster movies and what I think about jumping out of planes without fear of retribution. I am free, basically, to be myself.

Oh, and I’m free to give a low rating to a rather clever movie simply because I don’t like the colours brown and grey…

6 pumpkins.

Have you seen ā€˜The Lives of Others’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

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2 responses »

  1. You’re getting close to the end.t a few movies and fewer challenges. I’d like to be first, if I may, to congratulate you on a sterling effort. I hope you had a lifetime of memories to review over and over like Groundhog Day … or at least like that scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray wakes up to Sonny and Cher every morning. Now it’s in my head and I can’t get it out……

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