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Archive for July 5th, 2010

 

by Allan Fish

(Germany 2006 137m) DVD1/2

Aka. Das Leben der Anderen

For HGW XX/7

p  Quirin Berg, Max Wiedermann  d/w  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  ph  Hagen Bogdanski  ed  Patricia Rommel  m  Stéphane Moucha, Gabriel Yared  art  Silke Buhr

Ulrich Mühe (Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler), Sebastian Koch (Georg Dreyman), Martina Gedeck (Christa-Maria Sieland), Ulrich Tukur (Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz), Thomas Thieme (Minister Bruno Hempf), Hans-Uwe Bauer (Paul Hauser), Volkmar Kleinert (Albert Jerska), Matthias Brenner (Karl Wallner), Charly Hübner (Udo),

Strange that it should be a film so totally disconnected as John Boorman’s Excalibur that comes to mind when I first put fingers to keyboard to describe von Donnersmarck’s magnificent Oscar winning debut.  It’s because his film goes to prove that, though Nicol Williamson’s Merlin was right to exclaim that evil is “where you never expect it – always”, that equally as often, good is also where you never expect it.  To watch the equivalent of the first act of this unique masterpiece one sees aspects of Michel Blanc’s eponymous Monsieur Hire in the manner and demeanour of Ulrich Mühe’s Wiesler.  If you were sat in the cinema watching the film, and then a fire alarm forced you out after half an hour, and you then overheard a man outside say that Wiesler would be the hero of the piece and one of the great human beings in 21st century cinema, you’d have laughed. 

            In 1984 in the old German Democratic Republic, Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler is a party man, working for the Stasi – the old East German secret police – who thinks no-one should be above suspicion.  He is allocated the task of monitoring – for which read bug and spy on – famous Socialist dramatist Georg Dreyman, who lives contentedly with his actress partner, Christa.  However, when one of Dreyman’s colleagues commits suicide after an unfair career ban, he takes a stand and writes an article, with the help of some fellow conspirators, to be published anonymously in the west.  Wiesler should report this to the authorities, but rather grows to admire him and helps to cover up his misdemeanours to the authorities, though he puts his own career on the line in doing so.  (more…)

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