The Corner

The one and only.

The Movie Made it Look Bad. Real Life Was Worse


From a reader:

Dear Mr. Robinson, 
I saw your comments this morning on the movie, “Das Leben der Anderen” ["The Lives of Others"]. I’d like to share with you a few of my wife’s comments on it (we saw it just after it opened). First let me note that my wife lived in East Germany for over 30 years and in 1984 was a physician at the Charite hospital and an instructor/researcher at Humboldt university in East Berlin. Although she was never a member of the SED (she, of course, had to join the Young Pioneers and the FDJ), one can say she moved in more or less the same circles as were shown in the film. She was not pleased with this movie. Three specific comments she made: 
1. The fundamental element of the plot, the Stasi officer Wiesler helping Dreymann, is such utter nonsense that it ruins the whole movie. It would never happen that some one with over 20 years of continuous indoctrination by the Stasi would help a mortal enemy of the State (and by Stasi definition, that’s what Dreymann was). Even if Wiesler could have somehow come to see Dreymann as something other than an enemy, he still would have done what the Stasi expected, because he (Wiesler) would always have been watched and his work constantly checked. 
2. That Dreymann could think he was not being observed and bugged is also utter nonsense. This guy was a top playwright who associated with the highest cultural officials and he thought he was not of interest to the State !?!? My wife was continuously watched and bugged simply because she had foreign diplomats as patients. Being watched and bugged was something every East German assumed was part of their life. 
3. Production values and period re-enactment were good, although the streets were not as empty as portrayed. 
My wife’s conclusion was that Das Leben der Anderen was “accurately inaccurate” and that only a Wessi liberal could have made this film.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review