Friday, April 27, 2007

The Lives of Others

I finally got to see Oscar-winning The Lives of Others this week. It's a stark but extremely moving look at the tyranny of East Germany and its secret police, told through the story of a playwright who becomes disillusioned by this Communist paradise and the Stasi officer monitoring his loyalty to the state. The actors brilliantly portray the day-to-day life and complex moral choices of those who can never be sure whether they are being monitored and manipulated by their government.

Of particular modern relevance is the Stasi's use of psychological torture to silence dissident writers and activists — although nothing on the scale of the US in driving mad prisoners such as Jose Padilla. I left the cinema tearful at the horrors of four decades of state terror in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, and furious that the country that did the most to end Communist misrule is now busy recreating its horrors.

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