Saturday, April 14

Film: The Lives of Others Click for more info

Once again, a foreign film proves why it managed to leave the country it was made in. The Lives of Others is a film about the state, its citizens, censorship and control.

Set in 1984 East Germany, before the falling of The Wall, we mainly follow the activities of a writer struggling with his conscience - whether he should remain obedient to the state or talk up against its actions. Equally important is the officer assigned to spy on him; both because of his own struggle but also as a demonstration of how information was gathered back then.

Technically, this film wasn't that great. Acting was fine, as was the script. Direction was a bit weak, with plenty of continuity errors and instances of iffy flow. But the story managed to make up for these drawbacks, and then some, as we are given a pretty striking taste of what it was like to live under such conditions. And apart from this "transmission of context" we also got a thrilling plot to boot. I also found one of the most powerful endings to a film I've seen for a while.

Even if you wouldn't want to watch it on the big screen it would be just as striking on a DVD release. Recommended.

As an aside, I was surprised to find that this film was projected digitally at the UGC West India Quay. I noticed the difference in picture quality (bright and clean) straight away, more so than when I watched Final Fantasy at the Odeon Leicester Square. I was very impressed, especially when it came to rendering any CGI and subtitles. I thought that watermarking the print right smack in the middle every fifteen minutes or so was a tad distracting though.