Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has had a very busy year. First, he promoted his film The Lives of Others on the fest circuit; now he's shepherding it through the awards season. For almost a year now, von Donnersmarck has worked tirelessly on behalf of his film. He very graciously took the time to sit down with Cinematical here in Seattle to chat about his film, his views on filmmaking ... and which actor he'd want as his commanding officer in an actual war situation.

The central theme that I got out of The Lives of Others was change and the capacity of people to change, and I wondered if you could talk a bit about that, and how you wove that theme throughout the film.

You're right that that's a central theme, because I think it's one of the big questions in life: can we change, or are we just what our horoscopes tell us that we will be? At Oxford I studied Scholastic Philosophy, which included studying the works of Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas always formulates things as a statement, and then he'll have pros and cons about them and come to his own conclusion.

In one of these he debates the question of astrology. And he actually comes to the conclusion that astrology will tell you something about your future and where you are and where you're going -- maybe even tell you exactly. And he says that is why it's so hard to change, why change feels like swimming upstream, because you're fighting against all the stars and all the weight of that, against the current of the universe. I think it's important to realize that when people change it's always a legion of things that drive the change, not just one thing.

More after the jump ...