German subscription cinema and literature
12. Das Leben der anderen
Reasons to study this work
Besides being an extraordinarily rich film to study, Das Leben der anderen is a very interesting way of looking more closely at the DDR as a whole.
The interest of the work
The paraonoic and despotic world of the former DDR is centrestage in this claustrophobic story of surveillance, love and deception. When experienced Stasi officer Gerd Wiesler is assigned to spy on the house of prominent playwright Georg Dreyman he little suspects to what extent he is to become involved in the fate of this man and his partner Christa-Maria an ambitious actress.
In a multi-layered story we witness the totalitarian state in operation; a careless quip or joke to the wrong person can end up in demotion or the loss of one's job. One of Dreyman's fellow theatre friends can now no longer work and his own partner Christa is being blackmailed by a Stasi chief in order that she can continue to work.
Against this background, Wiesler is dragged into the increasingly tense relationship between Christa and Georg; his loyalties are tested as things come to a head.