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Gender in The Lives of Others: Postscript

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Here’s an interesting thing. I dreamed last night that I was in the world of The Lives of Others, but in the dream (in which I was an invisible presence) the playwright with the dangerous activist friends was a woman; the actor in her company was a man, her lover, insecure about his artistic worth and his career. That would have been quite a different movie, much more “edgy” and surprising. I don’t suppose I should fault the creator of the film for missing this…. But I’m sorry he did. I see that once again, a gifted German man, like Hesse, has created a work of genius, but he missed out on the opportunity to envision a woman as a co-hero or co-protagonist. The other main character in the film, Muehe, was still a man, in my dream–and I think for the film to work it’s better for him to remain a man. My dream-maker has more intelligence than I do. So do see this film. And then imagine the gender of the two artist characters reversed, and see how that feels.

The Lives of Others

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Came home from work today and watched a film of such power that I’m not even going to attempt a “review” of it, though I have to say something. Das Leben der Anderen, or The Lives of Others swept the German Lola awards; it got the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in the USA this year; and it is, for me, unforgettable. There are reviews everywhere already, like this brief but rather ecstatic one from a London critic, or this slick and shiny one from The New Yorker. But the film is a work of great intelligence, sensitivity, and power, much larger and quieter and more intelligent than its reviews. In the “Making of the Film” feature, there is a bit that made me gasp out loud. [read on]