Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Lives of Others

The image above is a new piece of graffiti in Regent Street, Redfern. I like to think of it as the brother of the sad girl I featured a couple of weeks ago, who has since been painted over. I am not sure why I think the first one is a girl and this one is a boy, just as I am not sure why these sad graffiti children appeal to me so much (although this one looks more pensive than sad, I think). I'll be on the lookout for other members of the family.

On to the subject of today's blog. Ms Nominative Determinism and I went to see The Lives of Others last night. A German movie set in the early 80s, before glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was very bleak and confronting in parts, but a beautiful and hopeful story nonetheless about the struggle of artists to express the truth in ths face of the repressive regime and under the watchful eye of the Stasi.
It reminded me of the story that some friends of ours tell of their escape from East Germany around that time: two elite ballet dancers, with a small son, they had applied to emigrate to Australia. After months of waiting for visas, they were finally given permission to leave, on the proviso that they left within 48 hours, with only a certain amount of cash (I think it was around $1000) and one suitcase each. Manuela tells how they packed one suitcase with clothes for herself, Till and baby Felix and one full of pointe shoes because they knew that teaching ballet was the only way they could make a living in Australia. Then they opened their home to all their friends and family, telling everyone to take anything they wanted as it would all be gone if they left it behind. They never expected to see many of their friends and family again. More than 20 years later -- post glasnost -- Manuela returned to visit her mother and was pleased to recover some family photographs she had thought never to see again.
I'm not sure whether the movie meant more to me because I could relate it to someone I know who lived through that era, but I think it is a well-told story with very evocative cinematography and great acting. See it if you get a chance -- it's opening at the Dendy soon.

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