Das Leben der Anderen

The current German Film "Das Leben der Anderen" by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is a long movie about the Stasi. It focuses on a couple, he a writer, she an actress, who are both solidly socialistic. But then the Minister of Culture decides he wants the actress for himself. He rapes her and then forces her to visit him every week, or "things will go badly for her". He has Stasi spies listening round the clock to the bugs planted in their apartment in the hopes of finding some dirt on the writer.

She finally decides not to go with the minister anymore, and sure enough: trouble. She ends up being roped in to be an "IM", an "informal colleague" (aka snitch) in order to continue her habit of taking psychopharmica. It is so horrible to see her choosing the medicines over her long-year lover, and delivering him to the Stasi.

They come to pay a visit, especially since an anonymous article about the GDR has appeared and the writer is suspected - correctly - of being behind it all. They rip apart the apartment, without finding anything.

One of the guys doing the surviellience has, however, grown close to the couple from his distance. He files false reports, and removes the evidence - a typewriter - from the apartment when the Stasi comes by for a second visit, now knowing the hiding place from the actress. The writer understands that she has betrayed him, and she runs out of the apartment in her bathrobe and into the path of a truck, getting herself killed.

When the writer reads the documents about him years later he finally understands the role of the little spy who shielded him, and writes a book about this "good person", dedicating it to his secret code without ever speaking to the man, although he actually finds him on the Berlin streets, delivering advertising to mailboxes.

The portrayal of the Stasi is cold and clinical, and you remember that we must not forget that the Stasi was not just a homeland security department, but they were responsible for much grief in the GDR.

A fascinating film, hard to take at times, very long, and very worth one's while.

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