An Analysis of the Lives of Others

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Summary Relationship Scenes
A number of scenes create a summary relationship between the story timeline and the screen duration. The film begins in East Berlin around November 1984 and though most of the plot takes place during this time reference, the story’s full timeline is almost a decade long. The following scenes complement the narrative because they allow the viewer to understand the historical changes in the setting (for example – the fall of the Berlin Wall) and the changes in the characters (for example – Wiesler is demoted from Captain to letter opening clerk): Scene 1 – The film identifies that 4 years and 7 months have passed. This scene prepares the viewer for change and allows us to understand that Wiesler has been in his downgraded post for a number of years. From a historical perspective, we know that Germany becomes a unified country and as such, we anticipate further change from Scene 1. Scene 2 – The film identifies that another 2 years has passed from the fall of the Wall. It is clear that East Germany has now become a more democratic country and that information is more readily available. Dreyman visits the archives of all the files kept by the DDR on the citizens investigated. We understand in this scene the extent of the socialist government’s record keeping and distrust of its people. The scene presents the viewers with a fully open Germany not only in its public information but also in its culture and arts. It is here that Dreyman runs into Hempf and we see a major change in Hempf’s stature (but not his character). This scene adds to the impact of the link between Dreyman and Wiesler. Throughout the film, they never meet or share a single scene so when Dreyman discovers what Wiesler has done for him we see how in fact both men were disillusioned (Dreyman never thought his apartment was “bugged” or that a Stasi might help him) and hasten each other’s disillusionment. Scene 3 – Another 2 years has passed since Dreyman went to...
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