Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (2006)
Das Leben der Anderen is a triumph of German film-making. There is nothing not to like about this stunning film: the acting is superb, the script is great, the direction is excellent, the score supports the film wonderfully…I could go on and on. Beyond the obvious individual superlatives what stands out is a subtle story about the effects on a society and on humanity of pervasive surveillance and totalitarian control. In some sense this film is the complement of Orwell’s 1984. It is the story of a man’s rebellion against totalitarian monitoring and control. But in this case it is a historical story, not one set in the future, and there is some optimism amongst the tragedy, as we know that totalitarianism falls with the Berlin wall. Beyond the grander themes we are shown the practical application of the maxim that “power corrupts: absolute power corrupts absolutely” – how in a totalitarian state the terrifying machinery of state power can be so easily brought to bear for petty reasons. Indeed this is one of the main reasons for the disenchantment of the central character – Captain Weisler. A beautiful film – deserved winner of its Oscar and many other awards.