Saturday, April 07, 2007

Is Fate to be Resisted?

Some people, like me, will spend their lives banging their heads against a brick wall hoping to break on through to the other side. Life begs exploration, fate be damned. There are dreams to realize, spaces to fill, uncharted territories to chart. Let's get on with it! But The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), a film I recommend, shows us a character who takes the opposite tack. After a successful (but ultimately failed) career in a corrupt government, this character comes to terms with his fate as a mailman in a newly reunified Germany. No bitterness, no anxiety, no yearning. It's not a resignation, a surrender, nor a renouncement, none of these negative spins apply. Just a total acceptance of the exact circumstances he finds himself in. I found this startling, so antithetical to my American fidgetiness. I was deeply moved.

The Lives of Others is the kind of film that gives us a remarkably complex story draped around some very simple ideas. Often these films fail sagging under their contrivances and didactic ways. Not this one.

(Painting by Mark Tansey)


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