Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Das Leben der Anderen

For anyone who doubts the viciousness and brutality of communism or excuses its "excesses", the film Das Leben der Anderen by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck should quickly dispell any illusions.
photo of Leben der Anderen, Das,  Ulrich Mühe
It won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2006 and it well deserved it. A gloomy film about a Stasi officer ordered to spy on a playwright and his girlfriend, it is both powerful and moving as well as being highly engaging. I finally got to see it and I was most impressed. I have been increasingly worried about the rise of "Ostalgie" in Germany - a weird nostalgia for all things East German - and I'm relieved to see that the Germans haven't completely lost it. This film serves as a healthy antidote.
Perhaps this new hotel opening in Berlin should play this film in the hotel rooms to remind people of the nightmare of the DDR. Better yet, to get the true immersive experience, they should keep hidden cameras in each hotel room, employ large men in polyester suits watching guests surreptitiously behind plants, and keep a special "Ostalgie Tour" in the basement where guests, for a price of 50 euros (donated to Hugo Chavez) get to be interrogated for 50 hours in a row and occasionally prodded with cattle rods if they do not reveal the most sensitive details of their sex lives. For an extra 15 euros, a good beating in a soundproof room can be included.

1 comment:

Neil said...

I saw evidence of "Ostalgie" when I was in eastern Berlin in 2003 -- a fleet of Trabants was going by with the words "Ostalgie Tours" on the sides of them. It's sad to see how many people worship power and miss the allure of brutality once it is gone. Sylvia Plath once famously said that "every woman adores a fascist", but many men also feel the same uncritical adoration of those who strive to dominate others by the force of their will. It's one of those terrible things that makes me periodically despair of humanity and its future. --This, by the way, is why I don't share your optimism about a capitalist future for mankind that will resolve most or even all of its problems and conflicts: most people are simply too influenced by cultural factors to recognize their own material self- interest or, even when they do recognize it, to accept it in preference to the life- denying alternative that they happen to value more highly. The Christians call this original sin, but one could also say less metaphysically that at some level human beings will always remain simian in our attitudes and our behaviour towards others. Sad but true.