He who has ears to hear

I have added a link to an article from Culturewatch on The Lives of Others that you may wish to read. Culturewatch  describes their work as exploring the message behind the media and it has a Christian focus.  Here is an extract:

The Lives of Others is one of the finest new films I’ve seen in a long time. Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, it is all the more amazing as this is German writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s first film. Set in East Berlin in 1984, it is the story of two men. The first is Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), a playwright who is thought by the authorities to be alone among his peers in his loyalty to the Socialist Unity Party. The second, State Security (Stasi) Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), is absolutely committed to the Party and highly effective in his work. He has his doubts about Dreyman’s loyalty when he watches him at the premiere of his new play. Wiesler’s former classmate, Anton Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur), has become head of the Stasi culture department and laughs off Wiesler’s suspicions. But Minister Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme) has his eye on Dreyman’s girlfriend and leading lady Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). It would be useful for him if Dreyman was found to be disloyal, so he suggests to Grubitz that Dreyman should be placed under surveillance. Grubitz, eager to curry favour with the Minister, immediately agrees with the wisdom of this action, and entrusts the case to Wiesler. Wiesler has Dreyman’s apartment bugged, and sets up his listening post in the loft of the building.

 

By focusing attention on this one operation, Donnersmark examines the mechanisms of the entire German Democratic Republic. A title card at the beginning of the film informs us that the Stasi had nearly 100,000 employees at this point in history, and a further 200,000 informers. The goal was ‘to know everything’. The ruthlessness with which this goal is pursued is shown starkly by an opening sequence in which shots of Wiesler teaching a class of Stasi trainees are intercut with shots of one of his interrogation sessions. As he plays the recording of the interrogation to his students, he describes what he is trying to achieve: ‘The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation. An innocent man becomes more angry; a guilty man becomes quiet and calm, or he cries. A liar has prepared statements; a man telling the truth can reformulate the truth.’ Donnersmark intensively researched the Stasi for four years before filming (which lasted just 37 days), including interviewing former employees and those who had been detained, in order to ensure the accuracy of the situation he portrayed. He was insistent on using original locations for such a film: notably the Stasi headquarters in Normannenstrasse and the Central Detention Centre in Hohenschönhausen.

 

They have also discussed Children of Men – Hinting at Hope and Children of Men Discussion Guide.

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