Run time: 132 mins
A remarkably assured first feature from von Donnersmarck and the film’s true star: Ulrich Mühe who died only a year after the film’s release. I hope he got to see his remarkable, compelling portrayal. It paints a dark picture of life under the dying Cold-War Communist regime in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). A grey world inhabited by these extraordinary faces is set mainly in East Berlin during the mid 1980s. It chronicles the Minister of Culture’s decision to investigate the lives of a successful playwright and his actress wife. He is, of course that senior Official fat gargoyle, who happens to fancy-slobbering over her.
His power gets his way (never heard of such a thing). Questioning his own ethics, the Stasi officer in charge of prying, becomes profoundly affected by bugging this ‘innocent’ couple. This film succeeds both as a convincing historical recreation and a compelling tale of individuals trapped in the dying years of evil institutional mistrust. (uh oh…?) A perfect cast of imperfect faces. Upon release, the film caused an extraordinary stir in the old Eastern Bloc. Here is a glance at today’s curious parallel: the newly-masked, fearful ‘greater-good’ pushing willingly into our own fear bubble. Come see for yourself… but tell no one.