While the script is often one of the most crucial elements in a film, the brevity of speech and precise movements of the primary character accentuate the changing nature of his integrity. As viewers follow Captain Wiesler of the East German secret police, it is soon clear that he only says what is necessary, such as when noting his surveillance partner’s lateness or setting instructions for the surveillance bugging team (“twenty minutes”). It is important to note that Wiesler does not say a single word when Axel Stiegler cracks a joke in the cafeteria about Honecker, or when Grubitz himself makes a joke. Only when Wiesler begins to actually live through Dreyman and Christa-Maria’s life does he begin to speak more freely, evidenced by his weakly asking the prostitute to stay, his conversation with the boy in the elevator (“What’s the name of your … ball?”), and the exchange he shares with Christa-Maria about his being her “audience” and convincing her to return to Dreyman rather than go to Minister Hempf. Along with Wiesler’s seemingly lack...
... middle of paper ...
...t this once, my friend,” the song only plays when Wiesler is acting in the interest of Dreyman rather than the Stasi. While the dramatic tune is more subtle than the Sonata for a Good Man, both songs achieve the same end of revealing Wiesler’s changing allegiance.
Most stories on the silver screen are able to effectively reach the audience through casting and the direction of scenes. But when a director is able to bring in more understated elements, including the mannerisms of the characters through the script, downplayed colors and illumination of the set and actors, and certain musical pieces to highlight pivotal moments in the story, a film can truly stand out among the rest. By using these downplayed details as Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck did in his breakout film, the leading character was finally able to live through, as the title says, the lives of others.
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