Thursday, 24 April 2008

Narcissus at the movies 2

The Lives of Others

On The Lives of Others, wasn't it curious how the glamorous playwright hero and his glamorous actress partner lived in a pad filled with lovely objects, like one of the more beautiful homes in Hampstead, while the Stasi spy lived in a miserable tower block, and had no eye for interior design?

I have little enthusiasm for the idea promoted in the film that there's a direct correlation between a taste for art and a strong moral sense. The secret policeman goes through his life unable to empathise with his fellow humans, but his heart opens to Art. And to Brecht at that!

In the ending of the film, after the playwright learns of all the Stasi man did to protect them, he avoids making direct human contact with the ex-Stasi spy, now apparently living in poverty, but instead uses his story to relaunch a writing career, and the ex-Stasi man gets a book dedicated to him as a reward. How nice, for Art is after all the most important thing. That, and getting your name in print.

I suspect a great deal of this film's success had to do with flattering the audience. "We're people who appreciate art, we read good books, appreciate fine music, go to see interesting foreign films - we love Art, so of course we're good people, and would have been even in the GDR."

To read opinions from people who actually liked the film, go to IMDB.
Update, more opinions and information here.

Previously in this series: Hiroshima mon amour.

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