Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s (yep, that is really his name) feature film debut “Das Leben der Anderen” (“The Lives of Others”) won an Oscar as “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 79th Academy Awards.
The film came about because of two things. First were many childhood memories of his visits to East Berlin and the GDR. As a boy of eight, nine or ten, FHvD has explained that he found it interesting and exciting to feel the fear of adults. His parents were afraid when they crossed the border: they were both born in the East and thus were more closely controlled by the police. Their friends from East Germany were afraid when other people saw that they were speaking with them, Germans from the West. Without these early experiences FHvD has said that he would have had trouble finding the right approach.
FHvD goes on to explain – “There was an image I saw in film school that I was never able to forget: the close-medium shot of a man sitting in a bleak room, wearing headphones and listening to beautiful music even though he did not want to hear it. This man pursued me in my dreams and evolved over the years into Captain Gerd Wiesler.”