The Oscar winning film “The Lives of Others” from 2006 (“Das Leben der Anderen” in German) is another film about the days of the former German Democratic Republic, very different in ambience from the film Goodbye Lenin!.
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Since it is about the actual workings of the GDR, especially its secret police, known as the Stasi, it is much darker, and does not raise any feelings of Ostalgie. But like its more optimistic counterpart, it does have a lot to say about human beings, their choices and their possibilities.
I, as a student of moral philosophy, thought that this was one of the best “real-life morality” films I ever saw. It presents a number of human moral choices, how to act under an oppressive regime, what to do when your beliefs are conflicted with the reality.
The plot revolves around a Stasi investigation of a popular playwright. The playwright Georg Dreyman and the Stasi officer Gerd Wiesler are the main characters. I really do not want to say too much about it, since I truly believe this film is very worth watching, more than once.
It is worth mentioning that the actor who played Wiesler, Ulrich Mühe, who died recently from cancer, was a perfect example of real life meeting art. Mühe, who played a Stasi officer in the film, claimed that he discovered after the unification in a Stasi file on him, that he had been under surveillance by his second wife for a few years (she denied it, and even went to court). You can read here about Mühe, his career and this story.
The playwright Dreyman is played by Sebastian Koch, and the wonderful Martina Gedeck plays his girlfriend, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland. The film was written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.