Florian Von Donnersmarck’s devastating political thriller traces the gradual disillusionment of Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe), a wire-tapping expert charged with observing the private lives of a famous playwright and his actress companion in order to determine their loyalty to the socialist state.
Here is a bit of information about The Cold War to help you understand the background to the film.
At the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were the two great emerging world powers. The United States disapproved of the Soviet Union’s actions in Middle and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union felt threatened by the expansively emerging capitalism of the United States. As the eastern powers distanced themselves from the West, Churchill famously described this situation as an ‘iron curtain’ between the Soviet and the American spheres of influence. By now the strategy of the United States existed in a ‘politic of containment’, aiming to limit the influence of Communist Soviet Union as much as possible.
The Cold War profoundly affected the defeated and occupied Germany. Although its entire civil life, economic situation and infrastructure were in disarray, Germany was still an important strategic point in Europe. Whereas the Soviets interpreted the American proposal to unite the different zones of occupation economically as ‘American economic imperialism’, the United States were afraid of the Soviet Union trying to secure all Germany under the communist sphere of influence. As a consequence, a continuous power struggle began between the Soviet Union and the United States.