The Lives of Others

Objective Review:  Although I didn’t really think about it at the time, one of the key scenes that I believe to have been in The Lives Of Others was when Wiesler was about to inform the guards at the Berlin Wall about the person that (he believed) was going to be smuggles across only to end up telling them nothing.  It is clear when he calls that he’s suddenly begun to think of something that’s causing him some internal conflict and his thoughts are made more or less clear when he then says “just this once” and hangs up.  For most of the film up to this point Wiesler has been a true and dutiful member of the Stazi, with the questionable exception of when he spoke to Christa-Maria.  This is the first time in the film that we see him willfully disregard his duty for the sake of the man he is spying on.  This sparks off a series of him covering for Dreyman which makes up the main plot of the film.

Reaction:  I rather enjoyed The Lives of Others.  It was a different film to the kind I usually watch but it had a story that I couldn’t help but get invested in.  One big question I had during it though was that this was clearly not the first time that Wiesler had committed full surveillance on a person and I was, and still am, curious as to what was so different about Dreyman and Christa-Maria so as to cause Wiesler to commit near treason for their sakes.  One of the first times that it’s hinted that he’s feeling a connection to them is when Dreyfus is playing the piano but that couldn’t realistically have been the first time that he’d heard someone play music while spying on them.

Interpretation:  While it may be one of the most obvious ways to interpret the film I think that the idea of collaboration and how it can change a person  may be on of the most important ideas to look at in this film.  Much like how Catlaw & Jordan talk about it the collaboration in The Lives of Others is between Weisler and the unwitting Dreyman.  Weisler by all accounts seems to be an aloof, distant, and austere person who does not care to form personal connections with people and seems to distrust everybody.  Despite this he somehow ends up forming a connection to Dreyman and Christa-Maria and working to protect them against his own people.  As Catlaw & Jordan discuss this is “collaboration with the enemy” as Dreyman is actively working to accomplish something that will hurt the East German government and Weisler not only knows but covers for Dreyman’s activities.  The shift that is seen in Weisler from the emotionally robotic man he is in the beginning to the more caring and slightly emotional man he is in later in the film brings into thought just how collaboration can change a person.  It seems to particularly stand out when earlier in the film Weisler is told that “people don’t change” and he changes a great deal throughout.

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3 thoughts on “The Lives of Others

  1. I completely agree that Dreyman changes through the movie. At first, he believed wholeheartedly in his job and in interrogation. Later, we find him breaking away from that and moving against his job to protect Dreyman. You mentioned that this was a collaboration with the enemy, as Catlaw and Jordan called it. Catlaw and Jordan also mention that Weisler’s intentions were not according to Sovereignty Good or the serving of good, “He makes no reference to some good or to his duty to a higher law; nor does he seem particularly interested in the content of the critical exposé that Dreyman is preparing” (Catlaw & Jordan, p. 296). By categorizing it as collaboration with enemy, this suggests that Weisler collaborated with Dreyman for a cause. But Catlaw and Jordan suggest otherwise. I was wondering, did you mean enemy as how Weisler saw Dreyman, or as how Weisler’s job conflicted with Dreyman’s?

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  2. I liked the scene you selected for your interpretation. I think it shows the inner struggle Wiesler faces as a loyal member of the stasi. I think the discussion of collaboration and its effect on Wiesler and others was key to interpreting the aforementioned scene. Wiesler is a pure ideologue. He rarely breaks the rules, if ever. He doesn’t even make slight deviations from the rules as others do. Like professor Austin discussed in class, he has a kind of insanity because of his strictness, noting how purity in ideology is a rarity and very unlikely to occur.

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  3. I agree completely with your interpretation of the film; however, I would like to see your interpretation of the film through means of the rhizome and lines of flight. Do you believe the film more accurately portrayed the rhizome, or lines of flight? I can see both interpretations relevant, but I would lean more towards the rhizome rather than line of flight.

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