I have been waiting to see this movie, waiting excitedly for almost a year.
I first came across a discrete liner note in one of my film magazines, where the director, von Donnersmarck remembered reading that Lenin once said to a friend of his that he couldn’t listen to his favorite piece of music, Beethoven’s Appassionata anymore, if he was to finish the revolution. He needed to bash people’s heads in to finish his work and the music only made him want to stroke those heads and whisper sweet nothings to them.
Then I read a couple of early scene descriptions, sublte and understated and the cinematography of the movie that had already been adopted, cold tones of greys that looked like what East Germany felt like. The scenes described, mostly involving Ulrich Muhe, the Stasi agent and main character, stayed with me for months. And I lived in the little I knew of that movie until I finally got to see it. I saw it alone, at a matinee showing, the day it came out in the theaters here, and it was, even after all that anticipation, absolutely beautiful. Riveting. Moving.
It just has everything I love most about a movie. Mostly subtlness and an observation of how art affects consciousness. It also showed lonely people, pushed to the extreme of their character’s limitations, and that was very powerful. People in a system where nothing is private, nothing is respected, and still, how people manage to affect each other’s hearts.
That and “The Queen”, which I will not start talking about, because I won’t stop, were my two recent favorites.