Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film The Lives of Other’s (2005) is set in East Berlin during the socialist reign from November 1984, up until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The political context plays a significance role not only in the film’s subject matter but also in its cinematography, which exploits the voyeuristic tendencies of the audience, reflecting the surveillance of the Stasi Secret Police officers. The film follows a loyal socialist and playwright, Georg Dreyman who becomes subject (along with actor girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland) to extensive Stasi surveillance due to his association with subversive artists such as Paul Hauser and Albert Jerska. Hauptman Gerd Weisler is the accomplished Stasi officer assigned to
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Within the scene, Weisler is in the interrogation room on an office chair. He revolves away from the prying eyes of Grubitz in the next room, which may signify that he is ‘turning his back on socialism’, before slowly revolving back around to face Sieland. This is followed by a slow zoom in to a close up of his face, perhaps to represent a moment of relisation in his loyalty to Sieland, a moment realised by both characters. This revolving angle is reminiscent of the scene in which Weisler mourns the death of blacklisted director Albert Jerska as Dreyman plays Sonata for a Good Man, a piano piece that Jerska gave Dreyman as a gift. Weisler sits at his surveillance desk with a single tear running down his face as the camera pans around him, the moment in the film in which Weisler is emotionally affected by human nature and begins attempts to shield Sieland and Dreyman from the Stasi; the revolving camera angle symbolises his shift in loyalty.
Weisler attempts to make this allegiance evident to Sieland in the interrogation room but is subtle enough for it to go unnoticed by Grubitz. Weisler reminds Sieland “don’t forget your audience” which is laughed off by Grubitz “He has some funny ideas!” but is actually a reference to when Weisler confronted Sieland in a bar and told her “your audience loves you for who you are”, imploring