The Lives of Others

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

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I feel like I’m always dropping the fact I was born in 1992, but here’s another opportunity: The Lives of Others made real something I considered very much in the past. In 1989, three years before I was born, the Berlin Wall fell. Like an ignorant moron, the way I contextualise that is: that’s the same year Back to the Future Part II came out.

So perhaps The Lives of Others has a different effect on me than older audiences. It is, after all, completely ABSURD to consider that a first-world government is spying on its citizens. But I like politically-motivated art, for the most part. The only difference between this film and, say, The Battle for Algiers is that I can relate to The Lives of Others a little better, and – not to sound like a dick (something people usually say before expressing their dickish opinion) – it’s a little more hard-hitting to see turmoil in a country that looks like yours.

The Lives of Others

But, moving away from what could be interpreted as slight xenophobia, The Lives of Others is a good drama even without the political backdrop – like 1984 but feeling like less like a “what if?” set piece. And like its setting, it isn’t all action, and the drama isn’t always visible… But it boils up from under the surface before exploding and you’re left wondering how you never noticed all this shit going on before. And I suppose it’s fun seeing what it’d be like if the government was watching our every move. I mean: “What if?!”

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