Friday, March 19, 2010

The Lives of Others - "One of the Best Films Ever Made"

One of the bonuses of being sick is that I can see films and Fox History and Entertainment. Today I saw The Lives of Others and what a movie it was. Truly, a classic not to be missed.

The film by writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is about the Stasi of East Germany (the communist Germany) spying on common citizens and depriving intellectuals from their much-needed artistic freedom. The state was so powerful that it could do anything, interfere with their lives and nobody had any power to question them and their errant ways.

That must have led to its downfall, because after the Berlin Wall came down and Germany became one, the records kept by the Stasi was openly available to citizens and they could read how the state was misusing its powers to subvert common people’s lives. Imagine this: a minister likes an actress and orders the surveillance of her lover’s flat to take revenge. His remedy for artists who hanker after freedom: keep them in a cell without telling them any of the charges, or, when they would be released. Let them destroy themselves with their minds, and release them after six months. The damage would already have been done.

The film has a message for all who don’t realise why artistic freedom is what basically guarantees freedom of democratic expression. A state that doesn’t guarantee artistic freedom may clamp down on personal freedoms too. Just a thought that struck me vis-à-vis our own artistes.

A must-watch film – American journalist John Podhoretz called it "one of the greatest movies ever made, and certainly the best film of this decade” – for all who love films, now playing on World Movies.

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