Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. Germany, 2006. Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Arte, Creado Film. Screenplay by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Cinematography by Hagen Bogdanski. Produced by Quirin Berg, Max Wiedemann. Music by Stephane Moucha, Gabriel Yared. Production Design by Silke Buhr. Costume Design by Gabriele Binder. Film Editing by Patricia Rommel. Academy Awards 2006. Golden Globe Awards 2006. Independent Spirit Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival.
A masterpiece that will be seen as a highlight of European cinema in the decades to come, this one starts off quietly and then little by little hooks you in completely. Set before the reunification of the nation, the film takes place in mid-eighties East Germany where the government has set up a secret police, the infamous Stasi, to monitor its citizens and be kept abreast of all possible anti-socialist behaviour. A new target has been made of a pro-socialist playwright whose girlfriend (Martina Gedeck, the star of Mostly Martha) has caught the eye of a high-ranking official who needs any excuse to get himself in her way. Ulrich Mühe is outstanding as a secret service agent who performs the sting operation himself, becoming more and more sympathetic to his victim as time progresses, and inspired by what he witnesses, both in art and politics, to start questioning the cold, heartless system he has been endorsing so unfailingly for years. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, as appropriate a name for anyone making a film against socialism as is possible, makes a titanic debut as feature director in this inspiring, humane document that touches on intellectual liberty, the power of art and the possibility that your talent can literally save your life.