The Lives of Others (2006) Top Quotes And Review
In the early 1980s, Georg Dreyman (a successful dramatist) and his longtime companion Christa-Maria Sieland (a popular actress), were huge intellectual stars in (former) East Germany, although they secretly don’t always toe the party line. One day, the Minister of Culture becomes interested in Christa, so the secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe and sound out the couple, but their life fascinates him more and more.
Buchverkäufer: 29.80. Would you like it gift wrapped?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: No. It’s for me.
[Wiesler enters the elevator at his apartment building. A young boy with a ball joins him]Junge mit Ball: Are you really with the Stasi?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: Do you even know what the Stasi is?
Junge mit Ball: Yes. They’re bad men who put people in prison, says my dad.
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: I see. What is the name of your…
Junge mit Ball: My what?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: [thinks for a few more seconds] Ball. What’s the name of your ball?
Junge mit Ball: You’re funny. Balls don’t have names.
Georg Dreyman: You know what Lenin said about Beethoven’s Appassionata, ‘If I keep listening to it, I won’t finish the revolution.’ Can anyone who has heard this music, I mean truly heard it, really be a bad person?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: Madam?
Christa-Maria Sieland: Go away. I want to be alone.
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: Madam Sieland?
Christa-Maria Sieland: Do we know each other?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: You don’t know me, but I know you. Many people love you for who you are.
Christa-Maria Sieland: Actors are never “who they are.”
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: You are. I’ve seen you on stage. You were more who you are than you are now.
Christa-Maria Sieland: So you know what I’m like.
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: I’m your audience.
Christa-Maria Sieland: I have to go.
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: Where to?
Christa-Maria Sieland: I’m meeting an old classmate. I…
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: You see? Just now, you weren’t being yourself.
Christa-Maria Sieland: No?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: No.
Christa-Maria Sieland: So you know her well, this Christa-Maria Sieland. What do you think – would she hurt someone who loves her above all else? Would she sell herself for art?
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: For art? You already have art. That’d be a bad deal. You are a great artist. Don’t you know that?
Christa-Maria Sieland: And you are a good man.
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered. He will shout and rage. A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries. He knows he’s there for a reason. The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation.
Georg Dreyman: The state office for statistics on Hans-Beimler street counts everything; knows everything: how many pairs of shoes I buy a year: 2.3, how many books I read a year: 3.2 and how many students graduate with perfect marks: 6,347. But there’s one statistic that isn’t collected there, perhaps because such numbers cause even paper-pushers pain: and that is the suicide rate.
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: I have to show you something: “Prison Conditions for Subversive Artists: Based on Character Profile”. Pretty scientific, eh? And look at this: “Dissertation Supervisor, A. Grubitz”. That’s great, isn’t it? I only gave him a B. They shouldn’t think getting a doctorate with me is easy. But his is first-class. Did you know that there are just five types of artists? Your guy, Dreyman, is a Type 4, a “hysterical anthropocentrist.” Can’t bear being alone, always talking, needing friends. That type should never be brought to trial. They thrive on that. Temporary detention is the best way to deal with them. Complete isolation and no set release date. No human contact the whole time, not even with the guards. Good treatment, no harassment, no abuse, no scandals, nothing they could write about later. After 10 months, we release. Suddenly, that guy won’t cause us any more trouble. Know what the best part is? Most type 4s we’ve processed in this way never write anything again. Or paint anything, or whatever artists do. And that without any use of force. Just like that. Kind of like a present.
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: [enthusiastic] I’ve got a new one. So… Honecker comes into his office in the morning… opens the window, looks at the sun, and says…
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: [starts to worry] … eh… what is it?
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: [startled] Oh, excuse me. That was… I’m just… I…
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [tries to put Stigler at ease] No no no, please colleague. We can still laugh about our state officials. Don’t worry.
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [almost laughing] I probably know it already anyway.
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [encouraging] Come on! Tell it.
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: [feeling more comfortable] Well… Honecker, I mean… the General Secretary… sees the sun, and says, ‘Good morning dear sun!’
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [with high pitch mocking voice] ‘Good morning dear sun!’
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: …and the sun answered, ‘Good morning dear Erich!’ At afternoon Erich sees the sun again and says, ‘Good day dear sun’ And the sun says: ‘Good day dear Erich!’ After work Honecker goes back to the window and says, ‘Good evening dear sun!’ But the sun doesn’t answer! So he says again, ‘Good evening dear sun, what’s wrong?’ And the sun answered and said, ‘Oh, kiss my ass, I’m in the West now!’
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: Name?
[becoming deadly serious]
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: Rank? Department?
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: [frightened] Me? Stigler, 2nd Lieutenant Alex Stigler. Department M.
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [almost sighing] Don’t need to tell you what this means for your career, what you just did.
Unterleutnant Axel Stigler: [scared, slightly angry] Please Lieutenant Colonel… I just…
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [angry] You just mocked our party! That was political agitation! Surely just the tip of the iceberg! I am going to report this to the minister’s office.
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: [starts laughing] Hahahaha! I was just kidding! Pretty good, huh? Yours was good too. But I’ve got a better one. What is the difference between Erich Honecker and a telephone?
Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: Nothing! Hang up… try again. Hahaha!
Georg Dreyman: You are a great artist. I know that, and your audience knows it, too. You don’t need him. You don’t need him. Stay here. Don’t go to him.
Christa-Maria Sieland: No? I don’t need him? Don’t I need this whole system? What about you? Then you don’t need it either, or need it even less. But you get in bed with them, too. Why do you do it? Because they can destroy you too, despite your talent and your faith. Because they decide what we play, who is to act, and who can direct.
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Georg Dreyman: I want to ask you one thing.
Minister Bruno Hempf: Anything, my dear Dreyman.
Georg Dreyman: Why wasn’t my flat wired? Everyone was under surveillance. Why not me?
Minister Bruno Hempf: [whispers] You were under full surveillance. We knew everything about you.
Georg Dreyman: Full surveillance?
Minister Bruno Hempf: The whole place was bugged. The works.
Georg Dreyman: Impossible.
Minister Bruno Hempf: Take a look behind your light switches. We knew everything. We even knew that you weren’t man enough to satisfy our little Christa.
Georg Dreyman: [contemptuously] To think that people like you ruled a country.
Guard: [subtitled version] Stand still. Eyes to the floor.
Guard: Walk on.
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: Socialism has to start somewhere.