A very very beautiful movie. It talks about the time after WWII where Germany was split between the East and West. The party that was ruling East Germany was known as the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or German Democratic Republic). They themselves had their form of NSA or KGB. This movie will tell you the story of a watcher and the person being watched.
This movie was really beautiful from all perspectives. The story was really beautiful; the cinematography was really beautiful; everything was just so beautiful.
It starts off with a scene show you the interrogation methods used to get people to talk. They wouldn’t let the person sleep, who you could tell was really tired. They would only let him sleep after he gave them what they wanted. This reminded me of the Nazi experiments performed where they figured out how long before a human dies due to lack of sleep. I can’t find the original page anymore, but I found this: Death Due To Sleep Deprivation. According to the Nazi studies, humans can last 264 hours without sleep before dying.
Anyway, back to the story. What you heard apparently was a recording of the actual interrogation. This ex-interrogator is now a professor. When a student questioned his methods as inhumane, he actually marked the student down, and one can imagined that he’d probably be watched from the remainder of his life.
The movie jumps into Georg Dreyman, a writer, and how the government doesn’t really like the ideas he’s been expressing. The government decides to “watch” him. So they tap his phone lines and listen and watch every movement that goes on in his house. This professor/ex-interrogator was asked to lead this project and bring him in the 1st moment he suspects anything that may be anti-government.
This man was pretty much for the party and the government and the whole socialist thing. But I think his switching point was when his boss told him to not write down anything between the minister and Georg Dreyman’s wife. The minister had been threatening to ban Dreyman and his wife’s (who’s an actor) from performing their works if she doesn’t have sex with him. The watcher asks why and he says it’s for the party and how they shouldn’t make the party look bad. So he started to feel sympathetic for the couple. He even meets up with the wife and convinces her to be true to herself and doesn’t have to give up her body in order to secure freedom to perform.
Dreyman continues to work within the boundaries of the rules, however when Alex his mentor killed himself, he sort of snapped. The government had pushed Alex to the point where the only way he could express himself was to kill himself. Dreyman decides to write an anti-government piece and gathers help from friends. They even test his house to see if it was tapped, but unfortunately, their plan fails in detecting that they’re being watched.
The editor of The Mirror comes and meets up with Dreyman and they discuss how the article was going to be written. He even brings in a tiny typewriter so it can be easily hidden in the event their house gets searched. For some strange reason, the typewriter had red ink. Meanwhile, the watcher falsely reports back on nothing’s really happening and that they’re just talking about the anniversary play script.
The article is finally published and the NSA/KGB people are really angry. They get an typewriter engineer to examine the original manuscript and the reports it’s a foreign typewriter and really tiny, but according to the experts, the form of the article most follows Dreyman’s writing. They contact the watcher, and the watcher says nothing of such sort happened. They arrest the wife and tries to make her talk and she broke quite easily and tells them the article was written by her husband. They barge into his house and search for the typewriter, but wasn’t able to find it. The watcher gives a sigh of relief.
The watcher gets pulled back to interrogate the wife and was told this was his last chance to recover the mission. I’m not sure if the wife didn’t recognize him or if she was playing dumb, but she gives him where the typewriter is located. The watcher rushes back first and takes the typewriter for himself. When the other NSA agents arrive, they find nothing again. The wife couldn’t bear the guilt and runs out onto the street and kills herself. What I didn’t get was why they released the wife before searching the house, as she could’ve returned fast enough to warn the husband and rehid the typewriter.
The watcher sees the car crashed into the wife and is left with a sense of guilt that he had ultimately caused this. The watcher was then reassigned to inspect mail (all incoming postal mail was opened, inspected, and resealed) for the next 20 years as punishment for failing the mission. Fortunately, the Berlin wall fell a little short of 5 years later.
Dreyman bumped into the minister during a play and the topic came up whey the NSA didn’t watch over Dreyman. The minister tells him that he was watched 24/7 and even the phone lines were tapped. Dreyman couldn’t believe it as all the anti-government meetings took place in his house. The NSA archives were also open (not sure if it was opened to the public or to specific people), but I would’ve thought they’d burn everything already. Dreyman looks up his data and there’s like 2 giant piles worth. He goes through them bit by bit, and can’t believe he was being watched all this time without knowing. He finally gets to the part where they talked about the anti-government article, and he could see the person writing the report had delicately changed everything to refer to the anniversary play. He’s thinking, whoever was watching him, purposely let him slip by.
He finally gets to the his wife’s confession and either he couldn’t believe that his wife betrayed him or the fact that it brought back the memory of his wife, he starts crying. The last entry was that nothing was found in the apartment during the 2nd raid, however, there was a red thumbprint on the report (from the red ink from the typewriter) and Dreyman realizes who had saved his butt once again. There was no name on the report, besides a agent code, but guess what, you could look up the agent’s name by giving them the code up front, another thing that was weird that didn’t sit right with me.
Dreyman locates the watcher, and the watcher was now delivery advertisements as his job. He wanted to go up and meet him, but I guess that would’ve been kind of weird. A couple years later, Dreyman releases a new book. The watcher sees the ad for his book in front of a book store. He goes in and opens the book and flips through a couple pages and on the 3rd page, it writes: “HGW XX/7 gewidmet, in Dankbarket.” It basically translates into “Dedicated to HGW XX/7”, where HGW XX/7 was his agent code.