According to the sign typology developed by Charles Peirce, shadow is an indexical sign that is a part of the object represented as there is no smoke without fire. The sign Donnersmarck uses — the prison — is a symbol, an arbitrary selected signifier that is not directly connected to a signified.
Although right in the next sequence an indexical sign supports the statement that life in the GDR is a prison on the narrative level. An audio tape of an interrogation is used as didactic material in stasi officer training. The tape indexing the interrogation, at the same time indexes the guilt of the person. The words and voice of the suspect are appropriated and used as an index of his personality and actions. Simultaneously the situation of listening to the tape in a class room reconstructs the interrogation situation.
Thus, the distance between the signifier a suspect represented by the tape and the interpreter stasi students and also the audience of the film is closed. Audience of the film itself becomes a member of stasi. Accordingly the distance between the re constructed GDR past and the spectator today is narrowed, the suspension of disbelief takes place on the narrative level here. By selecting an indexical sign, the shadow, she allows spectators to ignore its symbolic nature, interpreting it purely as a natural phenomenon.
In this case another aspect of truth production is activated. Why truth occupies the central role in discussions about these films? Both films are devoted to re construction of the past, a rather near past that is ticlosely related to collective as well as individual memory.
In this case conformity to truth is an especially sensitive evaluation criterion. The philosopher Christopher Grau, who researchers philosophical connotations in fiction films, in his work Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Morality of Memory notes that truth is simply a fundamental basic value. Truth about past, or what we think we know, is here the Other Usmanova writes about.
So, the spectators of these films are confronted with representations of truth. It is understandable that a part of the audience is perplexed or angry about these representations. Especially it is the case if these do not coincide with their own concepts of truth on the past they either have experienced and made representations of, or accepted other representations as their own. The features such as the dominance of mise-en-scene among the expressive tools of the film, shots, episodes, the independence of the soundtrack, the volume of the microdramaturgy, the multiplicity of narrative threads, the subjective camera sight are developed in Pitons but are born in Kurpe.
The lack of cinema-specific education and experience among the Latvian audience makes it difficult for viewers to appreciate this kind of formalistic films.
Naumanis also refers to the modernism as he classifies Kurpe as an instance of author cinema. Feminine is aligned with nature, chaos, nakedness, emotions, masculine in binary opposition to feminine is a marked term, aligned with civilisation, consciousness, order, control. Michel Foucault names hysterisation of a woman as one of four main strategies related to sexuality that the order of power and rational science turn into a resource of productivity. By identifying the film with the biological sex of its author Naumanis diagnoses both as hysterical woman.
Thus, there is no truth value in either one of them. Although the reviews are controversial and shallow in their judgements on the value of the film, reviewers take note of, but do not analyse, important elements of the film. Since this is the way the cinematic text is coded, one has to decode in the same way by adopting a certain gaze. Das Leben der Anderen offers a walk through lives of the strangers, the others, attentively watching, taking notes, listening and recording every tiny detail and moment, carefully collecting information, experience and emotions.
Gerd Wiesler, stasi officer, reads the same books, listens to the same music, and longs for the same intimacy between two people as his surveillance object. Georg Dreyman, the artist, is that threshold, tile or ornament the Wiesler-flaneur chooses to observe and to study during his walk through the lives of others. However this time he is so immersed in his observation that he gets involved into the life into the life of the Other under the influence of his surveillance object.
He goes beyond representing his object — on tape, in recordings and protocols — he enters the life of his object, thus making him a subject and turning himself into the Other. Here I must reiterate that the films are being analysed here as representation of the Other. Both in Das Leben der Anderen and in Kurpe it is not only representation of the past and of truth, the Other is also a power institution — the stasi and soldiers respectively.
The stasi is represented as a well organised, highly effective, very anonymous organisation spreading fear and terror not by means of open violence based on physical strength. The stasi violence is based on totality of control and surveillance. This, as no direct threat is articulated, can be seen as a demonstration that the stasi is a tool to organise the GDR society as the panopticum by Jeremy Bentham discussed by Michel Foucault in his famous Surveiller et punir. Whereas Foucault interprets the panopticum as a metaphor for power relations in postmodern society, the panopticum of the GDR is one possible interpretation of the representation of Eastern Germany as a prison suggested by the film Das Leben der Anderen.
It seems that in this moment Wiesler who had been a detached passer-by prior to meeting Dreyman, changes his flaneur position of observation to a position of performance, as if entering an interesting house to live there. But he does not go that far at the same time as actually going further, remaining anonymous to Dreyman Wiesler continues acting as a flaneur, but changes from the priest role, as Benjamin describes it, to the role of God. He chooses his Dreyman-Adam.
Dreyman, however, resists — he prefers not to notice the betrayal of his lover, he goes on living as if in a state of inertia, remaining deaf and blind. This is illustrated by a small episode with a tie: his girlfriend, Christa-Maria makes him wear a tie, and he does it although he never wears a tie and do not know how to tie it. His friends include both dissidents and stasi spies.
He does not choose a side. An article criticising the GDR and indicating him as the author is created and published with the help of dissident friends, Dreyman himself makes small-talk with the GDR minister, representing pure evil in the film, who directed the apparatus of oppression at him, even after reading the surveillance protocols. In addition, at the end of the film as Dreyman has an opportunity to meet his guard, he chooses to walk away. The threshold or a door cannot speak to the flaneur, these can only be present and let themselves be observed.
Dreyman is not only being observed by the stasi, he is also being observed by audience in the theatre, where the film audience sees him for the first and the last time. As a writer he is silent letting others talk and do, and even die, as his lover Christa-Maria, or write for him, as Wiesler does. By writing an autobiography Dreyman does not raise his voice, but rather puts himself in a window inviting a greater audience to observe him. The figure of Dreyman can be interpreted as a kind of door, special for its ornamented surface, he does not change, Dreyman remains constant in his decorative role.
While the film Das Leben den Anderen tells the story of the flaneur representing how the observed can influence the observer, the film Kurpe does not narrate, but internalises the flaneur principle as its basic form and mode of perception. The flaneur principle is embodied in and by the film in multiple ways. First of all, the soldiers and a dog who in temperate manner take a walk in the city. The next level of flaneur is the camera that is the eyes of the flaneur, positioned at the height and in the path of a passer-by.
The camera also assigns this flaneur perspective to the audience of the film. Benjamin claims that the home, knowledge on ways of living, is fundamentally linked to the art of walking. Das also, von dem man genau die Figur abliest, der es bewohnt. Knowing how people live is the matrix from which the figure who inhabits this form can be read and understood. In Kurpe the camera enters homes because soldiers are looking for women. Each time these rooms are full of those little details that fascinate the flaneur and each time life stops in those homes as inhabitants see the soldiers.
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Here the camera has an ambiguous position, it is still a flaneur, noting the tiny details of homes, but simultaneously it becomes also one of the intruders. The figures of soldiers, although invisible to the audience, are invading the homes, the audience sees life stop in the face of the representation of horror, repressions and war in the doorway.
And the audience is put in the position of the soldiers whereby the feeling of perplexity and unwillingness to accept this position is no longer a representation, but a real feeling of discomfort. Life continued. They worked out a kind of coexistence that was acceptable for both sides the occupiers and the locals. I also see a reference to the present there, even after independence we need to find a modus vivendi and way to integrate the Russians still living in Latvia. For me black and white has more possibilities than colour, richer nuances of differentiation, leaves more room for the imagination.
The ability to use the variations of the play between light and shade is also very valuable. Anyone can study, learning in turn requires experience based on repetition. She re constructs the past brick by brick, episode for episode, building her kind of museum. As a story by an outsider it is looking for picturesque, exotic and dramatic events. The pictures the flaneur is looking for definitely inhabit the film Kurpe, but seeing them demands a different mode of perception — that of the flaneur. The repetition and knowledge of the routine allows the film to go into depth, provoking lasting feelings of belonging to the past.
However, the Latvian film concentrates rather on the impact the flaneur as an embodiment of the Other has on the environment and people, the audience becomes flaneur by hearing and seeing, adopting the position of watching, this position of watching directly is not offered in Das Leben der Anderen.
In this film the camera is not taking the audience in by extending the eyes by camera lens, the audience here is watching flaneur not becoming one.yuzu-washoku.com/components/2020-02-23/2507.php
The Lives of Others () - IMDb
Wiesler is not only a shadow, as the Other is represented in Kurpe, although he also remains unknowable, das Ding an sich. He is a master mind, a professional, still not a machine, but very much human. The soldiers in Kurpe are also human, they are portrayed as very much the same as the people they meet, by failing to find anyone — they gain the humanity of failure thus shortening the distance both to other personages in the film and to people in the cinema theatre. The intense listening, according to Das Leben der Anderen, is the feature that allows the actor of regime, piece of state machine, to become human.
The humanity is re gained in the course of listening — to conversations, to music — that in its turn is integrated in the process of looking. The film offers a model of linear time, where towards the end of the film arriving in the present time flaneur as representative of the past seizes to exist, leaving the spectator in the cinema theatre alone in the looking and listening position. The film Kurpe by returning in the end to the starting point constructs time as mythological cyclical time, where flaneur keeps on walking.
References: Benjamin, Walter. Die Wiederkehr des Flaneurs. In: Beroliniana. Berlin: Union Verlag Berlin, Lilit Latvia. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck: Biographie. Das Leben ist anders. Die Welt. Die innere Wahrheit der DDR. Dezember Ko es daru, to es varu! Murray Smith, Thomas E. Wartenberg eds Malden: Blackwell Publishing, Kino Raksti. Normunds Naumanis. Ceturtdiena, Foucault, Michel Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison, Paris: Gallimard.
Das Leben der Anderen. Deutschland, Wie Feuer und Flamme. Latvija, Germany, Good bye, Lenin! Kleinruppin Forever. Related Papers. By Daniela Berghahn. By Nick Hodgin. Really-Existing Nostalgia? Remembering East Germany in Film. By Ben Gook. Screening the Stasi: the politics of representation in postunification film.
By gareth dale. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer. She is sent to work at a regional hospital in a rural area on the Baltic Sea. The film tells of her plans to flee East Germany and join her affluent lover in West Berlin. The difference is not in the attention to detail. Both filmmakers have stressed how they went to great lengths to recreate the look, feel, and reality of life in the East, tracking down genuine GDR materials and goods to use in the film and reproducing the forms of social interaction that developed in the oppressive totalitarian state.
However, I would contend that the mix of nostalgia and dramatic narrative does more than merely foreclose potential political content. The critical literature on Barbara has emphasized how Petzold went about creating an alternative view of the GDR by deconstructing paradigmatic views of it as a failed state and making the warmth and appeal of everyday life visible. Not unexpectedly, the contrast to The Lives of Others has played a prominent role in these discussions. In particular, they have pursued the focus on genre to draw key distinctions. What I find missing in the discussions of Barbara is indicative of what has often been said about Berlin School filmmakers; that is, it is easier to determine what they oppose than to describe the defining features of their filmmaking.
I want the viewer to get a sense of the actual places through the experience of the actors.
The Lives of Others
The windows they open are East German windows. And they drink actual East German coffee. This kind of sensual filmmaking that engages all the senses of the spectator and not just the eye is a hallmark not only of Petzold but also of Berlin School filmmaking as a whole. In the following, I pursue this question from a mediatheoretical perspective that distinguishes between the film image as a physical medium and the film as a text to be read. Often, however, they have let this phrase stand on its own without digging deeper into the workings of the image. By focusing on the materiality of life and sensory experience in the GDR, Petzold evokes an embodied mode of spectatorship that resists the representationalist approach to history found in heritage film.
Digesting the film much like a reader, the viewer sees the images as signs in a narrative system that must be pieced together into a coherent whole. In The Lives of Others , von Donnersmarck reinforces this mode of reception by incorporating a diegetic network of literary texts into his story. What they say about the narrative is not open to interpretation, and the film leaves little room for letting them work freely on the imagination. The verses themselves are of little importance. The shot of him reading the poems signals that he has gained a new perspective on the relationship between Georg Dreyman Sebastian Koch and Christa-Maria Sieland Martina Gedeck that leads him to try to protect them.
Von Donnersmarck works them into the plot in such a way that the extra-diegetic context of German literary history also comes into play to support this picture. Namely, it invokes images of Brecht as the director of the Berliner Ensemble theatre company and the most prominent literary figure in the early years of the GDR, one whose international fame helped legitimize the socialist regime.
Wiesler reading the poem by Brecht in The Lives of Others. It is of course a diegetic work of which we see only the cover and the dedication page, but its context in the narrative provides enough information for the viewer to conclude that it is a Bildungsroman. It tells the story of a good person trapped in a malignant social order who learns, with the help of literature, to change himself. It also serves to redeem the now disenfranchised subject of western capitalism, the new Wiesler, the door-to-door distributor of commercial printed matter.
Just as the fictional novel functions diegetically to instruct and redeem Wiesler, the film, too, is a Bildungstext. Its lesson is meant primarily for the former citizens of the GDR who must make sense of their complicity in the evils of the East German state in order to come to terms with their new lives in the Federal Republic. Not only is the viewer told what to see, what to hear, and how and what to think, but also, and perhaps most importantly, what to feel. Affect is channelled primarily through the meaning constructed by the narrative.
Von Donnersmarck constructs his film as a discursive text that presents complexly structured arguments about life and culture, and particularly literary culture, in the two Germanys. In Barbara, in contrast, the viewer has more autonomy with respect to these forms of response. By contrast, in The Lives of Others the key narrative crises are resolved by ethical decisions that the film unambiguously identifies as either right or wrong. Indeed, the way Petzold works these cultural artefacts into his film suggests that he envisioned Barbara as a counterpoint to The Lives of Others.
In all these scenes, the literary or musical episode is not subordinated to the hegemony of a narrative. Also, their historical or social significance in the context of the GDR, which is an essential aspect of the literary episodes in The Lives of Others , does not play a role in Barbara. When Petzold incorporates another art form in a way that enriches the film both thematically and formally, he chooses one that has no counterpart in The Lives of Others : painting. In an instance of explicit filmic ekphrasis, he offers a diegetic interpretation of a painting while inviting the viewer to interpret it as well.
He presents his interpretation to Barbara, explaining that Rembrandt replaced the left forearm of the corpse with the picture of the right forearm from the anatomy text. However, the final shot of the scene lingers not on the victim, but rather on the doctors. The whole group of doctors staring intently at the book rather than at the executed victim might evoke a free association with the constant state surveillance and harassment of Barbara throughout the film.
The Lives of Others/Das Leben der Anderen
But it also offers a moment of meta-reflection on the alternative mode of spectatorship that the film demands of the viewer. Barbara fixing the inner tube and her view of wait staff at the restaurant. Eschewing formulaic modes of representation, Barbara situates the viewer differently than The Lives of Others as well as mainstream Hollywood narrative more generally. Whereas von Donnersmarck consistently directs the eye and the ear to audiovisual elements that are bound to the narrative, in Barbara one has the opportunity to access the image casually and linger over seemingly insignificant details.
We see extended takes of Barbara walking or biking through the countryside, various shots of routine work at the hospital, and a scene of her submerging a bicycle inner tube in water in the bathtub to find a leak.
Related Filmanalyse: Das Leben der Anderen (German Edition)
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