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The Lives of Others

I don’t really care about the Oscars anymore, thanks to Forrest Gump. However, I’m still capable of getting curious about the winners, and if Best Foreign Picture didn’t go to Pan’s Labyrinth, a small part of me wants to know why.

In this case, The Lives of Others just happened to be a better movie. Not by a huge margin, but I have no complaints about the Academy’s decision in this case.

It’s about two intertwining lives; that of Gerd Wiesler, a Stasi agent, and that of Georg Dreyman, a playwright. One watches the other; the other performs, unknowingly, for the one. The third actor in the drama, Christa-Maria Sieland, is a pivot point for everyone else in the movie. Her choices create the context in which the others…

Fail to meet, because they don’t ever really. But it’s her actions which bring Wiesler to reconsider his life as a watcher, and which bring Dreyman to idealism and subversion.

Despite the humanistic, nearly redemptive ending, I have to think of this movie as a tragedy. You have — well, five interlocking wheels of motivation, albeit the three mentioned are the major ones, which drive inevitably towards a tragic ending. There’s a coda, after the Wall falls, but it isn’t anything other than bittersweet.

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