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Top Movies of the Decade #33

33. The Lives of Others

A quiet, powerful film about an ordinary man who routinely participates in brutal and repressive acts, until the simple act of listening changes his life, his outlook, and his willingness to stand by and let the oppressive government he works for do whatever it wants.   “The Lives of Others” is set in 1984 Eastern Germany, and Ulrich Muehe works for the Stasi – the East German secret police.  When he is sent to spy on a playwright for no apparent reason besides his supervisor’s attraction to the playwright’s girlfriend, he faithfully does his job – but what he hears during surveillance changes him.  “The Lives of Others” is perfectly paced as a thriller, but reveals itself to be a deeply human drama, about freedom, connection, and resistance.

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