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The Lives of Others This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     As we live day by day, it is easy to get lost in ourselves. “The Lives of Others,” a German movie with English subtitles, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, depicts a break in that barrier.

Set before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Stasi (East German secret police) interrogator Captain Gerd Wiesler is assigned to surveillance of a popular writer, Georg Dreyman. Wiesler begins to feel compassion for the writer who’s nothing more than the victim of a corrupt party member’s lustful scandal.

The film had a profound effect on me. It is difficult to imagine living under constant surveillance, with the threat of violence by the very government whose duty it is to protect its citizens. I was reminded of the freedoms we should cherish and never take for granted.

I found “The Lives of Others” to an interesting perspective on a historical period that I otherwise knew little about. Rather than focusing on the liberation of the German people, Das Leben der Anderen details the life, thoughts, and tragic events of Dreyman and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland, providing a personal view of human oppression during the reign of the Stasi.

As Dreyman’s loyalty to his country is pushed to its limits, he takes the daring chance to publish incriminating evidence against the party. This is a flagrant act of rebellion: If discovered, it would cost him his life. The beautiful Sieland is stripped of her freedom and faced with conflicting loyalties between her boyfriend and saving her career. More important, however, is the transformation of individuals and the relationships between Wiesler, Dreyman, and Sieland.

The fact that it is a foreign film does not detract from its relevance. In fact, “The Lives of Others” won the 2007 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Its theme resembles that of George Orwell’s “1984.” I left the theater very aware of the dangers of indifference and failure to act in maintaining our civil rights. Encroachments on personal liberty, like President Bush’s Patriot Act, I now call into question as threats to the very freedoms so tragically depicted in “The Lives of Others.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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