Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Lives of Others (Germany: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Director’s Statement
German movies produced after the reunification generally, and strangely, depict the GDR (the German Democratic Republic or former East Germany) as funny or moving. Both my parents come from the East, so as a child, I was often in East Germany to visit friends and relatives. A cousin of my father’s had been named chief of protocol of Erich Honecker, the East German head of state and boss of the ruling S.E.D party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany). Other people we knew had very normal jobs, yet one could see the fear in all of them, right up to the end of the regime. Fear of the Stasi (The State Security), fear of the 100,000 highly trained employees whose sights were trained on one thing: “The Lives Of Others”: the lives of those who thought differently, who were too free spirited and above all, the artists and people working in the arts. Every aspect of life was recorded. There was no private sphere and nothing was sacred, not even one’s closest family members. I met Stasi victims who had been jailed and harassed in Hohenschonhausen (where the central detention center of the Stasi was located). I asked “unofficial agents” about their activities and I talked to documentary filmmakers who had worked on these topics.

In the film, each character asks questions that we confront every day: how do we deal with power and ideology? Do we follow our principles or our feelings? More than anything else, THE LIVES OF OTHERS is a human drama about the ability of human beings to do the right thing, no matter how far they have gone down the wrong path.
--- Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

The Lives of Others (Germany: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006: 137 mins)

Ash, Timothy Garton. "The Stasi On Our Minds." The New York Review of Books (May 31, 2007)

Bamford, James. "They Know Much More Than You Think." The New York Review of Books (August 15, 2013)

Barker, Jennifer Lynne. The Aesthetics of Antifascist Film: Radical Projection. Routledge, 2013. [Get through interlibrary loan]

Brockmann, Stephen. "Das Leben der anderen (2006) or the Power of Art." A Critical History of German Film Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010: 488-500. [Professor has copy of the book]

Bromwich, David. "Diary: The Snowden Case." The London Review of Books 35.13 (July 4, 2013)

Coulter, Jerry. "Visual Story Telling and History as a Great Toy -- The Lives of Others." Wide Screen 1.2 (June 2010)

Cox, Harvey and Jonathan Steele, reply by Timothy Garton Ash. "‘The Stasi on Our Minds’: An Exchange." The New York Review of Books (May 31, 2007)

Dawson, Mike. "Top Ten Films of 2007." Left Field Cinema (2007)

Garcia-Mainar, Luis M. "The Return of the Realist Spy Film." Cineaction #88 (2012)

Hansen, Per Krogh. "Unreliable Narration in Cinema: Facing the Cognitive Challenge Arising from Literary Studies." Amsterdam International Electronic Journal of Narratology #5 (Autumn 2009)

Hoffgen, Maggie. "The Other Germany: Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others, 2006). Studying German Cinema. London: Auteur, 2009: 201-213. [Available in BCTC library]

Horn, Eva. "Media of Conspiracy: Love and Surveillance in Fritz Lang and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck." New German Critique 35.1 (Spring 2008)

Jennings, Tom. "Rehabilitating Big Brother." Libcom (August 12, 2007)

"The Lives of Others: East Germany Revisited." GHI Bulletin 41 (Fall 2007)

Nordlinger, Jay. "Florian's World." National Review (April 7, 2008)

Ring, Annie. The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen). BFI Film Classics, 2022. ["This study offers a fresh approach to the remarkable German film The Lives of Others (2006), known for its compelling representation of a Stasi surveillance officer and the moral and ethical turmoil that results when he begins spying on a playwright and his actress lover. Annie Ring analyses the film's cinematography, mise-en-scène and editing, tracing connections with Hollywood movies such as Casablanca and Hitchcock's Torn Curtain in the film's portrayal of an individual rebelling against a brutal dehumanising regime. Drawing on archival sources, including primary research from the Stasi files themselves, as well as Enlightenment philosophies of art and Brecht's theories on theatre dating from his GDR years, she explores the film's strong but much-disputed claims to historical authenticity. She examines the way the film tracks the world-changing political shift that took place at the end of the Cold War – away from the collective dreams of socialism and towards the dreams of the private individual, arguing that this is what makes it at once widely appealing and fascinatingly problematic. In doing so, she highlights why The Lives of Others is a crucial film for thinking at the horizon between film and recent world history."]

Steyning, Anthony. "The Lives of Others." (Personal Website: No Date)

"Security/Security Agencies/Surveillance: Peace and Conflict Studies Archive." Dialogic (Ongoing Archive)

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