The Lives of Others Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmark Written by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmark (screenplay) Starring: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, and Ulrich Tukur
Voyeurism, as it turns out, is one of the leading topplers of totalitarianism. At least that’s what Florian Henckel von Donnersmark suggests in his Oscar-winning foreign drama The Lives of Others.
The film tackles both of the aforementioned “-isms” with a formal technique that is amazing from a first-time director. Suspense fills almost every bleakly muted frame, generated not by constant cutting but by focusing on actor’s facial expressions and the many twists of the story. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), an interrogator in East Berlin circa 1984 (yes, like the book) is tasked with listening in on the lives of a playwright (Sebastian Koch) and his actress muse (Martina Gedeck.) At first, we see him interrogate an earlier subject with relish, and the film cuts to him as an instructor lecturing eager students with a recorded copy of the same interrogation.
The Ghost Writer Directed by: Roman Polanski Written by: Robert Harris and Roman Polanski Starring: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall
It is wise advice to be told as a storyteller to separate personal affairs and creative work if you are looking to tell a good story. But if you are looking to tell a great story, then making your work personal is exactly what you want to do. Roman Polanski, a nearly 80 year old filmmaker publicly known for currently being placed under house arrest for a sex scandal that happened back in the 70’s with a 13 year old girl, does something like that.
The Ghost Writer is film is by no means Polanski’s personal film, nothing in the likes of Woody Allen’s Whatever Works which in a way is his firm defense on being charged with molesting his 7 year old adopted daughter and later marrying wife’s biological daughter. In no ways does Polanski involve himself in the politics of the film, nor does he allow that sort of thing to distract from the story, but politics and controversy are nonetheless haunting this somber political thriller much like Polanski’s ghastly past must haunt him. His familiarity with scandal may be the reason this film is done so authentically. Continue reading →