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Watching The Lives of Others: Primal Scene Envy in the GDR

lilothers.jpgThe filmmakers use the dynamics of the primal scene, presumably without conscious awareness of those dynamics, to exact upon the agents of the East German government (GDR) exactly the forms of revenge that Arlow’s patients exact in fantasy upon their parents.

I have not yet met anyone who saw The Lives of Others who didn’t speak highly of it. It allows us a frightening view of a totalitarian state (East Germany, circa 1984) that rivals anything in Orwell’s imagination. Big Brother is watching and we watch along with him. It also gives us a story of miraculous transformation as a hardened Stasi agent, an “idealist” who lives for the state, becomes a rebel and a closet romantic.

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