Christa-Maria tells Wiesler that he is a good man. Jerska gives Dreymann Sonata for a Good Man. Dreymann dedicates Sonata for a Good Man to Wiesler. What is “a good man” in The Lives of Others? Was it possible to be a good man in East Berlin? Do we need a different language/vocabulary to describe these men? Does this film have a hero? Was it possible to be heroic in East Berlin? 

Does art have the power to make us good people? The director offers us plenty of evidence that artists are more sensitive, more compassionate, more empathetic. But he also offers us plenty of evidence that art does not make us better people. Before the Second World War, Germans were considered the most cultured people on the planet. Why are people who worship art capable of barbaric behavior? Why do we study art? Does it have the power to change us? Is Hempf correct? Are people incapable of change? 
Why is Martina Gedeck given the name Christa-Maria? Why is her code name, Marta? Does the film have a religious dimension? 
Why does Wiesler attempt to help Dreymann? Is he in love with Dreymann? Is he in love with Christa? Does Christa need to be sacrificed for the sake of Dreymann? 
This is Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s first film. It is an homage to many, many classic films he has loved — It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca, The Third Man, The Red Shoes, Rome: Open City, Fahrenheit 451, etc. What does this film have to say about film? Do you see the director making reference to any films you have seen? 
1 out of every 6 people in East Germany worked for the Stasi in some capacity. People knew that they could not necessarily trust their parents, siblings, children, friends. Do we have the ability to understand what such lack of privacy would mean? Do we need to alter our expectations of each of the characters in this film when we consider this statistic? We are raised in this country to believe that we have choices. Do any of the people in this movie have choices?
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16 Responses to The Lives of Others: Questions for Reflection


    Something I find most interesting about this film is the dehumanization of people. We see this from the very beginning of the film. In the opening scene of the film I find it interesting that the man being interrogated is being treated as a number, just another people that this man has to see in his day. He even refers to him as his prison number. The man interrogating him shows absolutely no emotion.

    The cuts between the interrogation and the lecture are quite startling. Again, the man interrogating him shows no emotion, while it is clear that the man being interrogated is breaking down. The setting of the later interrogation is dark and dismal. It is clear that this man has been interrogated for quite some time and his mind is beginning to crumble. While this is all happening, the interrogator remains cold and robotic.

    Though this man seems cold and almost inhuman, it is apparent that he knows exactly what he is doing and keeping his cold demeanor is part of that process. I find it interesting that everybody in the lecture is unmoving and cold.

    However later in the film the interrogator, Wiesler, reveals a softer more caring side of himself, while still maintaining his appearance. This film plays with the idea of good and evil. Who is really good and who is really evil? Can you be one or is everybody a little bit of both? I don’t know if I would use the word evil, maybe bad instead, but I feel that everybody, not just the characters in The Lives of Others has good and bad in them, whether they show it or not. This film shows the good and bad of people in the different aspects of their lives, and how they try to keep them separate. But naturally, when things get messy those two are going to collide.

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