(aka 'The Lives of Others')
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
You can pick out the works of others in Von Donnersmarck’s drama—America’s paranoid ’70s thrillers, British espionage flicks and various dour nail-biters featuring overcoated spies coming in from the cold. But it’s the performances (especially Mühe’s compartmentalized spook) and the film’s sharklike forward momentum that make The Lives of Others a compelling look at the psychic toll incurred by a society obsessed with security. The relentless pace resembles a noose tightening; like the claustrophobic Army of Shadows, the movie frames its compositions for maximum constriction. It’s too soon to tell whether this young German filmmaker is our generation’s Jean-Pierre Melville, but judging from how he sustains a piano-wire tautness down to the final freeze-framed shot, the director has undeniably perfected the art of turning the screw.
Theatrical Release: March 15th, 2006
DVD Review: Sony Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Sony Pictures - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 4.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||German (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, French, None|
• Director Commentary
with Director (29:58)
Sony's dual-layered, progressive and an anamorphic DVD looks exceptional. Contrast and sharpness are very strong and the image quality may even come close to the Blu-ray edition (which I have not seen) but probably shows a few more miniscule digital artifacts. It looks extremely impressive especially considering the low bitrate. The DVD sports gaudy, oversized yellow subtitles and the audio is a crisp, but largely untested, 5.1 track.
Supplements include a 30 minute interview with the director von Donnersmarck, a short making of featurette (at 20 minutes) and seven deleted scenes (about 1-2 minutes each). It seems that I missed the director commentary and just listened to it... - I thought it was okay although nothing that had me overly engrossed. It didn't do much to intensify my appreciation of the film.
The film is a very good one - I was interested in German Democratic Republic’s secret police force (called the 'Stasi') and the characters are dangerously real and the story impacting and memorable. I will be keen on von Donnersmarck's upcoming work. This DVD is recommended!
Introductory text messages are in English (not original German with optional subtitles)