M, E and I saw Das Leben der Anderen yesterday. It was one of the best films I have seen in a long time, incredibly well acted and directed and the whole aesthetic of it blew me away. I have this vague idea of what the DDR used to look like - you know, the clothes, buildings, packaging and so on, but that idea isn't really built on anything real; I have never even been in former East Germany, only seen a few Trabis on West German roads back in the early 90's when my father lived in northern Bavaria. This film has that aesthetic down pat, and apparently it was widely acclaimed for how well it captures the look of the DDR in the 80's - my assumption when I saw the film was that it seemed too good to be accurate, visually, perhaps romanticising the squalor of life in a communist state.



It's drab, minimalistic and colourless, done in shades of grey, beige and brown, and the whole film is completely gorgeous in all it's bleakness. It's a must-see for any fan of obsolete technology - bugging equipment, headphones, cars, gramophones, typewriters... and the main character, Stasi agent Gerd Wieser, has a wardrobe that is spectacular in it's spare, conservative monotony. There is a fantastic grey poplin/manchester jacket that had me salivating throughout two thirds of the movie, for example (and I don't even like poplin jackets), charcoal two-piece suits worn with a knit grey pullover, black tie and a shirt that looks not quite white, but very pale grey, the kind of grey shirt that might as well be a white shirt, faintly discoloured in the laundry. Ulrich Mühe is outstanding in the part. I would gush about how good he is, as well as the other actors, but it wouldn't do him justice.

Seriously. See it, if you haven't already.

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