Recently, I watched—again—the award-winning German film The Lives of Others. I was struck—again—by what a great movie it is. Although this was the third time I had seen it (maybe the fourth), I was very interested in how the people joining me–who had not seen it–might view it ten years down the road. I have to tell you: it held up very well for both them and me! It continues to resonate even though it is still presented in the original German language with subtitles—the acting and the cinematography is that good!
Ten years ago it won the Academy Award as best foreign film. Set in the 1980s, it tells the story of a Stasi man (think Gestapo or KGB) in East Germany who is required to spy on the life of a playwright. The film focuses on the needs of totalitarians to suppress the work of artists in a culture and the lengths to which such people will go to dictate and control the lives of others in order to achieve their own private ends. But it also shows the amazing resilience of the human spirit.
The most memorable line comes late in the movie, after the fall of the Berlin Wall: “And to think people like you once ran a country.” Of course, having witnessed what is happening and may happen in our own government under the current leadership, I found the film even more powerful this time around.
In their denigration of the press and of artists who not only disagree with them, but also have the courage to call them out for errors in judgement, DT and his cohorts are already at cross-purposes with two of the four freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment: Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech. Nor are they especially respectful of the other two: Freedom to Assemble and Freedom of Religion.
Scary times ahead.
We must never forget that the price of liberty is constant vigilance.
Bottom line: If you have never seen The Lives of Others, hie thee to Netflix (or whatever) and see it. If you saw it before, see it again. ‘Tis well worth it.