This is a German film set in East Germany during the Cold War. The story centres on the surveillance of an artist by the Stasi, and is definitely one of the better films I’ve seen this year. It’s odd, but not remarkable, that the best films I’ve seen recently were Spanish, Swedish, English, Australian and German. What in the hell has happened to American cinema I do not know…
The title refers to the way in which the Stasi agent, Wiesler, who is monitoring the artist, Dreyman, becomes intimately intertwined in the life of his target. And it is done beautifully. Someone pointed out to me that often in this film looks are used to convey meanings that a b-rated Hollywood film couldn’t do with hours of dialogue.
The plot centres on the desire of a central party Minister to possess Dreyman’s girlfriend Christa-Maria. Although Dreyman is a dedicated communist, and ‘relatively’ squeaky-clean, the Minister is determined to get dirt on him. A full surveillance with orders to find something incriminating follows.
What is unexpected about the progression of the film is the gradual seduction of Weisler into lives of Dreyman and Christa-Maria. Weisler is very much a good man under the capture of an authoritarian ideology, and the writers allow him to redeem himself despite the impending destruction of the lives of Dreyman and Christa.
A film of great subtly that I’d happily watch again. At over two hours I hardly noticed it time move!