The Life of Others

I have to write a paper for two classes about this film.  That means it’s also blog moment for me….

Thursday, October 27, 2011, the film The Lives of Others was presented as the first movie in a series, sponsored by the Humanities department. The Humanities viewing room was nearly filled to full capacity to see this 2006, Oscar winning film.

Professor Mary Boldt introduced the movie and presented a slideshow explaining the Soviet-era split of East and West Germany, maps, lead characters, and her close
American friend’s “Statsi Records”.  That was an attention grabbing moment to me.

Statsi Records were the files the East German police gathered on anyone they believed could be a spy.  Boldt’s friend’s record was one page with maybe ten entries.  They documented her meeting with her German friends.  That was all she had to do to get a Statsi file.

The movie was set in 1984 in the city of East Berlin.   An agent of the Statsi police was ordered to conduct surveillance on a writer and his lover.  Georg was a writer and was deeply in love with his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria.   Georg wanted to write about the high suicide of people who were “blackballed” from their writing or acting profession.  The Statsi officer, Weisler, learns many secrets while Georg’s apartment is wire-tapped.   He became increasingly absorbed by their lives and eventually rooting for the wrong team.

Georg was involved with sending information to West Germany and his story was
published.  Higher ranked Statsi police were furious when they realized Weisler must have been helping Georg by hiding his activities.  Georg didn’t know he had a silent partner allowing him to write his article and get it to West Germany safely.

Christa-Maria was a huge success in Germany performing in her boyfriend’s plays.  When the Germany Minister Hempf forced her into weekly sexual favors to keep her name off the blackball list, Weisler made sure Georg found out.  George convinced
Christa-Maria to refuse Hempf’s sexual demands and Hempf retaliated by having
her arrested for possession of illegal pills. Christa-Maria tells where Georg was hiding his typewriter so the Statsi police can have him arrested.

There is a wonderful twist to the plot that doesn’t end well for Christa-Maria.  George continues writing and eventually the wall separating East and West Germany come down.  After the wall is down, George is able to request his Statsi records.  He had no idea he was being watched at anytime through-out the movie.  His records arrived on a cart and he
eventually came to know who the secret police officer was that helped him get
his writing to West Germany.

I found the movie very entertaining.  Though it was not based on a true story, it was a simple story that could have been true.  Following the movie, Professor Boldt thanked and excused viewers who needed to leave.  A large group remained behind for the
question and answer session.  Professor Boldt was a wealth of information and eager to share her knowledge about Germany and the German language.

No Statsi File for me,


P.S. I found it strange that after spending that day in court defending my rights to write about my life, I had to watch a film about a writer doing the same.  I really connected to the movie.

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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