Books are my Boyfriends But Foreign Films are my Hookups-The Lives of OthersPosted: July 7, 2011
As you guys know if you read el blog on le Tuesday that I am hooking up with ze foreign films this week.
As you can tell from the previous sentence, this has made me muy tres multi-lingual.
Today I’m writing up the 2006 German film (and Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film) THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
So let me be completely upfront with you guys. If THE LIVES OF OTHERS were a human male being, every time I saw him, I would run into his arms, dip myself down, and make out with it like that famous sailor-kissing-the-nurse-after-World-War-II-was-over-picture. I would elope with this film, run away with it to an obscure third world country and live with it until our mutual savings ran out. I would rewrite my will and leave my combined checking and savings account plus all my interesting books and cool art prints to this film.
What makes this film so romancey-pants swoonfest-worthy? I’m going to tell you rightthissecondnow. Synopsis Gadget, go! THE LIVES OF OTHERS takes place in East Germany in 1984 which is not as scary as Germany in 1939 or 1944 but is still extremely fucking scary. The Easterly Side of Germany is run by the Communist Stasi. The Communist Germans are not as scary as the Communist Russians but they are still extremely fucking scary. Of course, it doesn’t get more extremely fucking scary than the Secret Police of a Totalitarian Regime. So meet our protagonist, Captain Gerd Wiesler, secret police officer.
Just a little bit sexy-pants, ja? See you guys, I’m so multi-lingual it’s ridiculous, United Nations, get on your shit and hire me already.
Wiesler is assigned by his superior Grubitz to spy on popular playwright Georg Dreymann and his live-in actress girlfriend Christa-Marie Sieland. Grubitz informs Wiesler that Dreymann is suspected of un-socialist activities, but it quickly becomes clear that this is more of a case of Grubitz-wanting-to-find-a-way-to-get-Georg-Dreymann’s-ass-thrown-in-jail-so-he-can-hardcore-bone-Dreymann’s girlfriend Christa-Marie-Sieland. Socialism, you so crazy!
So Wiesler moves into the attic above Dreymann’s apartment, sets up cameras and wiretapping and proceeds to spy on the playwright and the actress. As Wiesler spies on the couple, we grow to both love for Dreymann and Sieland who are a loveable, dysfunctional little East German jamboree, and Wiesler, who is probably the loneliest guy this side of the Milky Way. The more Wiesler watches the couple, the more he begins to care for him, and as the couple veer closer and closer to committing illegal, anti-Communist acts, Wiesler finds himself torn between doing his duty and protecting these people whom he has come to care from, these people who never know he exists, these people whom he carries on a two-year-long one-sided friendship with.
So I love boy meets girl-boy loses girl-boy gets girl as much as the next person who likes classic story structure. The same goes for fish out of water, a stranger comes to town, and a group of misfits who team up to save the day. I’ve seen these stories a hundred times over, with different sets, costumes, lights, actors, and dialogue. Still, the same stories. And after seeing the same story a hundred times over I go out on the deck, stare up at the night sky, shiver in the cold, and wonder “Is this all that’s out there?”
It’s not. In the LIVES OF OTHERS I have found a story I have not seen before or since. A story about how it is possible to find friends, family, and love with people you have never met, with people who will never know you exist. THE LIVES OF OTHERS takes place a quarter of a century ago, during a time when computers were the size of houses, phones had cords and rotary dials, and twitter simply referred to the sound birds make. Still I think there has not been a movie made that better captures the modern era. THE SOCIAL NETWORK, go flop down on your bed and cry in your pillow, you’re not the prettiest girl at the Films That Say Something Profound About Our Modern World Dance anymore.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS is one most absorbing and stirring testaments to the human spirit I have seen on film. If I was going to send a movie out to aliens in space, this would be my pick. I’d also throw in E.T and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND so the space-people would know that me and Spielberg are down to have an alien party and hang. For serious, you guys, THE LIVES OF OTHERS, slam it down on your Netflix Queue, then jack it up to top position. Get it did, mis amigos and mon amies! And remember, you’re reading the subtitles, so it may not count as a book boyfriend, but a foreign film is totally in the books approved as a so-hot-it-makes-steam-look-cool HOOK-UP!