Perhaps the secret to filmmaking is simplicity. Simple notions can open an array of doors and options, whereas a complex starting point doesn't have the same easily-accessible origins. This seems to be the case with The Lives of Others, which was an incredibly simple idea that grew into a complex and compelling story. The film was born when a scene popped into Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's head of a surveillance man who expects disloyalty, but instead finds himself moved by what he hears. It's the inextricable flaw of Big Brother -- when run by human hands, there is no guarantee that someone will remain impartial.

As Martha Fischer described in her review, Stasti officer Gerd Wiesler watches Georg Dreyman evolve from a hands-off citizen to passionate rebel. Wiesler begins to spot the flaws in what he previously saw as a flawless system, and begins to act accordingly. But there is also a power behind the film that becomes clear when you step behind the scenes. When I saw the film at TIFF, the Q&A made everything a little bit clearer, and the recent interview with Donnersmarck for The Hollywood Reporter does the same.

This is a film that draws power from personal experience. While research and consultants are well and good, Others has an understanding that fuels the piece and makes it seem all the more real. Donnersmarck did conduct extensive research to get it right, but he also had his memories of travelling to East Germany, and an actor who knew the Stasi first-hand. Now, after winning a flurry of awards in Germany, it is the country's submission to the Oscars.

categories Movies, Cinematical