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Customer Review

98 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Drone, February 21, 2007
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Gerd Weisler (Ulrich Muhe, appropriately drab) is an East German Stasi (Secret Police) drone: the type of man that his superiors count on to "get" his prey. Early on in this fascinating, superior film, Gerd arrives home from a hard day of spying on his fellow East Germans and prepares a meal: microwaved white rice onto which he squeezes tomato paste from a tube. This scene, in its spare, workmanlike manner sets the course and adjusts the sights of this film: the unremarkable, out of hate and jealousy assigned to bring down those deemed different, those deemed remarkable, those deemed talented. Weisler is the perfect Stasi automaton: a socialist monk with ice-cold eyes and an incorruptible true believer's faith in the system he has sworn to defend against "enemies of socialism" no matter where he finds them.
"The Lives of Others" begins in 1984 a particularly Orwellian date and 5 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Weisler is invited to a night of theater by his school friend and boss Colonel Grubitz (a slimy bureaucrat performance by Ulrich Tukor) for a performance of a play written by Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and starring Dreyman's live in girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck from "Mostly Martha"). Dreyman is tall, handsome, dresses in colors other than grey and Christa-Maria is wondrously gorgeous and a great actress to boot.
As Weisler watches Christa-Maria on stage he also scopes in on Dreyman, via his opera binoculars, watching Christa-Maria with love and admiration. The look of distrust and envy in Wailer's eyes is frightening: his eyes widen, squint and widen again. What does Weisler see or sense on that triumphant, for Dreyman and Sieland, night? Is it watching them basking in the glory of an audience's love and appreciation? Is it the palpable love and warmth between the two themselves: something that Weisler has never, will never feel? Whatever it is, Weisler has found his next assignment.
Though Dreyman is deemed "the only writer we have who is not subversive," Weisler forces the issue and sets up a full Stasi surveillance: bugs, cameras and sets up a roost for himself in the attic of the Dreyman-Sieland home.
Then in the process of spying on these two warm, happy, talented, loving people something happens to Weisler: he slowly, through the ugly process of spying, thaws little by little: Weisler falls in love with them and more to the point.., he falls in love with their lives.
First time director, Florien Hinkle von Donnersmarck has produced a remarkable, involving, intelligent film: an intricate, frightening film full of lives caught at the difficult crossroads of patriotism on the one hand and on the other the vortex of individual duty and honor.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 24, 2007 4:07:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2007 10:02:15 PM PST
"the lives of others" won the independent spirit award for best foreign film today and hopefully will win the same award at tomorrow's oscars.
lives of others also won the oscar tonight....!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2007 6:44:09 PM PDT
I'm always impressed how you weave the particulars with general observations when writing a review. Nice job, bro!

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 6:47:57 AM PST
Your account of the story of the movie is in fact not correct. It is not Weisler who initiates the investigation, it is the minister (I forget his name) who is attracted to Sieland and who orders the investigation started by Weisler's superior in hopes of finding something that lets him make rid of Dreyman and take Sieland for himself.

Posted on May 31, 2009 8:25:13 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2009 8:41:49 AM PDT
Shari says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2012 10:02:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 13, 2012 10:02:20 AM PDT
Joey D says:
No, it is Weisler who plants the bug in his friend's mind when he says, "I don't trust him". This in turn leads his friend to say to the minister, "He should be watched," which the minister jumps on board immediately.
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