The Lives of Others (2006)

Dir: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006, with Sebastian Koch and Ulrich Mühe, DVD

Last night was the second time I’ve seen this film, and it gripped me every bit as much as the first. In fact, by knowing the story, I was freer to focus on how good the acting and direction are. I know that – for all its visual authenticity – it’s an implausible plot, but the actors have you spellbound throughout. Just one look or glance can convey so much. While you’re watching you can believe in a Stasi interrogator who is changed by curiosity and sympathy into someone who does a compassionate and brave thing. It’s a brilliant work of art about the transformative power of art and empathy. It’s also a chilling reminder of the degree of control over every aspect of your life that a state can exert.

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