Saturday, March 08, 2008

See this film

I just saw an amazing movie: The Lives of Others.
Interestingly, this movie’s plot is virtually identical to the opera I have been working on (in two different productions) for the last 2 months: Tosca.
“Melancholy, elegant and complicated”, the film is set in Germany in the 1980’s. I suddenly feel that I don’t have the right words to describe it, so I will borrow from A.O. Scott, who reviewed the film for the NY Times. The entire review is here.
“Posing a stark, difficult question — how does a good man act in circumstances that seem to rule out the very possibility of decent behavior? — it illuminates not only a shadowy period in recent German history, but also the moral no man’s land where base impulses and high principles converge. … There is a bracing, old-fashioned quality to Mr. von Donnersmarck’s film, which supplies us with good guys to root for and villains to despise. But it also shows, with excruciating precision, the cruelty with which a totalitarian state can exploit the weakness and confusion of its citizens. And even as they are, to some extent, enacting a morality play, the actors also seem like real, vulnerable people forced into impossible choices.“

I will add to this… though it certainly relies on its political circumstances, this is really a story about human beings. Love, loyalty, betrayal.
Not only it is a riveting piece, with interesting plot twists and beautiful performances, but the look of the film is evocative and gorgeous as well. I love the palette…. Warm tans and browns juxtaposed against cool pale greys. It doesn’t knock you over with design, but quietly creates an atmosphere that supports the action. Really lovely to see.
ps. yes, it is in German. No, it doesn't matter, you should see it anyway. It has subtitles, and frankly, I ceased to even notice after the first few moments.

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