Living in Berlin, watching “The Lives of Others” was a must. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, it was mostly filmed in the original locations, in East Berlin. It highlights what life was like in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, for short) in East Berlin, particularly during the 1980’s.
Set from the point of view from a Stasi spy, the audience gains an inner look as to not only just the lives that he is observing, but the lives of the Stasi themselves. It addresses one of the important, dark, yet often overlooked moments in German history. The film showcases the struggle of the individual amidst a socialist regime. One’s conversations, medications, outfits, professions and more, were all dictated and observed by the GDR. Paranoia ran rampant. On the other hand, it also demonstrates that even in such a repressive state, there still exists some human decency - or at least we cling on to the hope that it does.
“The Lives of Others” is not just an impressive film, it is also a relevant one - only 28 years ago was Berlin still divided. Many of the film’s locations look exactly the same. I have also had the opportunity to speak with Berliners who lived through the GDR. One man said to me and this I will never forget, “The wall is down, but it still exists, up here (referring to his mind).”
Watch it here: