Hey George what have you just been to see?
We’ve been to see THE LIVES OF OTHERS, a film about East Germany at the time of the Berlin Wall.
Can you briefly tell us the story?
The story centres around a play writer who is under surveillance by the secret service as he is thought to be disloyal to the state. The man who’s assigned to watch him, who is a senior member of the secret service, develops an obsession with the play writer and his friends. He then begins to protect the group from prosecution by omitting details in the surveillance report that could get the play writer into trouble.
Why do you think the secret service agent changes the way he thinks about the artists?
I think because the agent was watching them all the time, he began to relate to them and feel connected to them.
How would you rate the acting? Was it convincing?
Very. The whole thing was engaging and it was easy to see what the characters were thinking through their expressions.
Was it a difficult film to watch?
No, even if you weren’t familiar with the events in history surrounding the film it was easy to follow, whilst still having quite a complex plot.
Did you realise the extent to which people were watched during this time?
Not really, even though the time period for this film is only approx. 20 yrs ago, the extent to which people are oppressed makes it seem as though the events are something from Nazi Germany, not possibly within most people’s lifetimes.
You mentioned something about the exhibition that’s on at Cornerhouse at the moment called Do Not Refreeze?
Yes, the photos from the exhibition are from the same period and are about the east/west divide and propaganda, and the film shows what the artists had to risk to show things about the country to the rest of the world.
So having seen the film do you have a better understanding of the photos in the exhibition?
Yeah, it’s almost like a crash history course which shows you how things were, instead of dates and stuff that doesn’t really have a human connection.
Does the film compare to any other films you’ve seen?
Not really no, but there was definitely that whole spy thing going on! People hiding in doorways and stuff
Did you get the impression that a lot of time had been spent on developing the characters?
All the characters were complex. There weren’t just good and bad. It was all about circumstance and how far you’re willing to go for something. There was a kind of fragility about people that made you really think about how and why people behave as they do and why they make the decisions they do.
Was there anything that you didn’t really like about the film? Any parts of the story etc?
I think it was constructed really well.
So are you a fan?
I am. I’d recommend it. I wasn’t sure I would be able to follow everything that was going on at the beginning but I was completely swept away by the end.
And what about that last shot?
It was odd. It just froze, almost before the guy had finished speaking. Weird!
Any final words?
Watch it, it’s good.
Review by LiveWire Critic, Georgina Amica-Carpenter (Jun ’07)