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Why We Included “Lives of Others”

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 by

The Lives Of Others is a film about uncontrolled spying by a government on its citizens with the cooperation and in cases at the instigation of other citizens. This a German dramatic narrative film, made in 2006, about the East German Secret Police (STASI) and their work in East Berlin to control the population there by focusing on those who could be problems — such as writers, actors, musicians, and others — you know, “trouble makers”. The film won 7 top awards in Germany for its writer/director, and lead actors. It went on to win the Academy’s Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film” (2006). The story and its turns and intrigue are worthy of top ranking as a spy novel, and the acting and observation are both pinpoint on.

East Germany was perhaps the most surveilled society of its time, and the temptations of personal information in the hands of the government is clearly (but not melodramatically) portrayed here. The engagement of the life of the spy with those spied upon is intricately presented.

Recently, the McClatchy newspapers interviewed former Lieutenant Colonel Wolfgang Schmidt, 78, who had been an officer of the STASI. They discussed the recent spying revelations concerning the NSA in the United States. “A smile spread across his face. ‘You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,’ he said.” 

Stefan Wolfe, the curator of the East German Museum in Berlin, asked to see his records that the STASI had compiled on him. “A large part of what I found was nothing more than office gossip, the sort of thing people used to say around the water cooler about affairs and gripes, the sort of things that people today put in emails or texts to each other.  The lesson,” he added, “is that when a wide net is cast, almost all of what is caught is worthless. This was the case with the Stasi. This will certainly be the case with the NSA.”

But the technology that facilitates the capturing of the information also helps with the processing of it, so perhaps the Colonel’s comment bears listening to: “It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said.

The Lives of Others is a very good film as a film. But it is also a timely insight into matters of great social weight today. We thought that it would be a good thing to highlight the availability of this title.

This film did about $11 million at the Box Office in the United States (according to IMDBpro) — which simply means not very many people have seen it! Through special arrangement with one of our suppliers, we can offer this title for almost two-thirds off it’s original release price. Check out the film page (here) at indiepixfilms.com for the details.

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