Das Leben der Anderen (2006)

When I decided to move to a different city some years ago, one of the things I had in mind was to discover some of the past of Europe, the place I grew up and have always lived in. Berlin seemed a good starting point for such a journey because of its historical heritage, from the Nazi-Regime and mainly from the east-west division.

The first year I lived in Berlin, I visited several places known to be witnesses of old times. Some of these places turned out to be just indicators of what might have happened here, while others certainly have not faded in strength or vividness. The two places that had most direct impact on my understanding of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), were on one hand the Ministry of State Security (Stasi), of which parts are open to the public nowadays (like Erich Mielke's office), and on the other hand a memorial called "Gedenkstätte Berlin- Hohenschönhausen", which is a former remand centre of the aforementioned Stasi.

Now, I believe that art is an important vector for understanding our past and also building upon it. Germany has had several feature films specifically about the rise and fall of the GDR, but most of them seemed to have a comedy aspect to it, rendering the seriousness of the topic a bit greyish. I came to a point where I wondered if really all the policemen and officials from the former GDR really were clowns of some sort. So I am happy to announce that I have finally seen a really fantastic, German drama feature film about the dark side of the GDR regime! "Das Leben der Anderen" (The Life Of Others, imdb link) is worth your time, be it just for the cinematographic interest. Yes, finally a movie that does not hesitate to show really dark and paranoid aspects of the life between your beliefs, your actions, and the clerks.