The Lives of Others is an outstanding German drama that describes the control of East Berlin citizens by the secret police of the German Democratic Republic. Along with highly essential moral issues raised in the film, viewers may observe the culture-specific elements and living conditions of the GDR’s residents in the 1980s. Since the GDR was defined as a communist state, its culture was substantially influenced by Soviet ideology and negative legacy (Rubin 34). In the socialist state, the performance of the play written by Georg Dreyman depicts strong and brave women working at the factory because the images of peasants and workers are considered to be ideologically appropriate (The Lives of Others). At the end of the film, in a united Germany, this performance looks absolutely different. However, according to the storyline, suicide rates in the GDR are immeasurably high and keep elevating. Moreover, all kinds of criticism of the GDR’s government and the support of West Germany are severely punished. For instance, the joke that is told by the Stasi’s employee destroys his career.
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Concerning the living conditions of the GDR’s citizens depicted in the film, it is necessary to admit that there is a significant difference between the lives of the art community and governmental workers. In Dreyman’s flat, there is a large number of books and decorative elements, while the home of Gerd Wiesler is austere (The Lives of Others). Wiesler has only necessary furniture, eats simple food, and wears almost the same clothes during the film. His way of life underlines his commitment to the ideas of socialism.
In general, this film describes not only the struggle of people’s lives in the GDR, where they are totally controlled, and any dissidence is subjected to persecution. The story discusses the issues of humanity, freedom, and choice. It shows that rightfulness and fair treatment of people is frequently more significant than state arrangements.
Rubin, Eli. “Beyond Domination: Socialism, Everyday Life in East German Housing Settlements, and New Directions in GDR Historiography.” Imaginations Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, 2017, pp. 34-47.