Monday, February 19, 2007

Dean and I saw "The Lives of Others" last night at the Harvard Exit. What a terrific movie. It takes place in East Germany, in the years just before the Berlin Wall came down. Ulrich Muhe plays a Stazi agent, who is a bit of a nerd and a loner, but very loyal to the ideals of Socialism and his country. At the onset of the movie, you can see that he is tired, perhaps beginning to see through all the rhetoric to the deep corruption and evil at the heart of his government. He is placed in a stake-out in the attic of a theater director's and his actress-wife's apartment, secretly listening to all they do and say (including listening in on them having sex). Over the course of the movie he is drawn into the lives of the couple, and their circle of revolutionary friends, and begins to be won over by their honesty and their struggle. It's a fascinating analysis of how totalitarian authoritarian regimes crumble from within, mostly due to their own corruption and emptiness, and how simple human lives win out. It's amazing to think this kind of wide surveillance happened on such a large scale in East Germany, and that the people put up with it. And it makes me wonder about our own country, and what kind of surveillance is already happening under Bush and his evil cronies. This movie is a must see.

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