The Lives of Others – An Interview with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

The Lives of Others - An Interview with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

The Lives of Others – An Interview with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

  With The Lives of Others, the young director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck an impressive debut film has turned. The oppressive work of the Stasi spy system that can be resurrected, and asks fundamental questions about morality and humanity in totalitarian systems.

How did you come on this subject that has attracted you to it, it is a personal motivation?

There were two things that have brought me over the years into the film. Once the many formative childhood experiences during visits to East Berlin and East Germany: It was interesting and exciting for me as an eight-, nine-, ten-year boy who felt that adults were scared. And they were afraid of my parents at the border crossing – they are both originally from the East and were therefore perhaps more thoroughly screened – and our friends from East Germany, when others saw that they were talking to us Westerners. Children have an incredible array of emotions antennas. I think I would have found without these experiences are difficult to access this topic.

And then a picture that does not let me go, after it had occurred to me in 1997 at the HFF a creativity exercise – the medium closeup of a man in a desolate area, he has headphones on his ears and hears unearthly beautiful music although he does not want to hear. This man followed me in my dreams and matured over the years into Captain Gerd Wiesler. Gabriel Yared’s always saying that one is as creative only recipients. If true, here was some very strong transmitter on the duration of sparks.

You have researched extensively for the film – how and where?

I have visited many places where you could trace the spirit of the times, such as the Memorial or the former Ministry Hohenschönhausen Today’s research and Memorial in the Norman Street, as well as the Birthler authority, including the archives. Places can store emotions very well, and these visits have brought me many times more than the many books that I have of course also rolled on for years, and the documentaries I’ve seen. But the decisive talks with survivors of Stasi Lieutenant Colonel Wolfgang Schmidt, head of the evaluation and control of the “HA XX,” about Stasi prostitutes to people who were part of two years in detention were Stasi; of writers Christoph Hein as the set designer Bert Neumann on the popular stage, by Gisela Spiering, Chefdisponentin of the Deutsches Theater, the playwright Gisela Pucher from the Berliner Ensemble to the Principal from East Germany, Dr. Henning Rischer. I have tried to gather as many perspectives that have a lot of contradictory one, but in the end won a very definite feeling for this time and its problems. Has greatly helped me to day and night, our historical advisor, Professor Dr. Manfred Wilke, head of the “Research Network SED state” at the FU Berlin.

The last and most important ground, but then came over to work with the actors and the team members. Most of them also came from the East and had a lot to contribute often very personal experiences and insights. For many, my research and then the rotation of the opportunity to talk for the first time about these things. This is amazing! 14 years after the fall! Some wounds heal very slowly halt.

Were there any concrete examples of figures or events?

The figures are made up of many different real models, and certainly suggest that many can identify with one or the other. But the film is not a “roman a clef,” or “key film.” Characters and events are deliberately kept in suspense fiction – for example, is Hempf a minister without portfolio. I have always been important not to lose myself in the historical details – but a story of real people, but still, emotionally speaking, a drama king!

How long the preparations have lasted? As long as the swivel? The post-production?

At the screenplay, I worked about three and half years, which was at least one years pure research. A year of preparation came to shoot at least 38 days filming – but we had still four to five minutes per day to finished film, the first cut version was in fact 180 minutes long – and one years post-production.

You are, among other things grew up in Berlin – as the city is connected to your movie, how to use the city?

I was born in Cologne, we then moved to Frankfurt, and left the family when I was two, to New York. When we returned six years later from there to West Berlin, which was for me like the jump from the First to the Second World – the GDR was then the third. Berlin was a shock for my brother and me. And it is, for me at least, even today.

Was it difficult to find in today’s Berlin to the appropriate locations?

It was a very long process because set designer Silke Buhr and I had very clear ideas about the locations. We’ve scoured countless photo albums and had “our” image of the GDR, as we wanted to tell her, right in the head.

How did you convince these ranks prime actor?

We were fortunate that the tree Erna Bauer, Marie Curie, the thought of acting agents, from the beginning of the movie. In America, this lady had problems with the monopoly of authority, because almost all the truly great actors are with her. These actors – in our case Tukur, cooking, trouble – got so many offers that she did not get to read all the books. Women Baumbauer but reads everything. And that very well. When she called me and said about the screenplay: “I cried,” for the first time since I had no fear about the future of this film. With Mrs Baumbauer I then spoke about other aspects of the film. She has an unerring sense for everything that has to do with film and drama. If they dissuaded me from someone, I distanced myself. If they advised me to someone, I listened very closely. If I had a little help in directing, then surely know my feeling for it, too, when I should be listening to other, more experienced people. …

How to win an Oscar winner for film music?

That was a little slow, but who knows me knows that I do not take no for an answer! I had written my thesis study at the Film School of Talented Mr. Ripley, and always had the feeling that the film reveals itself to me only upon the music. I wrote Gabriel Yared until I personally passed upon him, and could give him a substantive presentation. He was equally interested. Then I got a windfall to the rescue of one of its major projects, Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy, and he had a sudden burst some time. Among Yared functioning that he is already writing the script first phase of music for a film. We met three times in London to develop these approaches. He has, for example, the “Sonata of the Good People”, which Dreyman plays, already composed. Sebastian Koch says that he has found just by playing this piece with the figure of Dreyman. Another proof that Gabriel Macht method sense.

The Lives of Others is the first full-length feature film. What were the challenges?

True, it’s my first full-length feature film. But I’m already ten years in the film business. Because our system is extremely hierarchical, it’s just taking a long time, until you get the chance to realize a full-length film that corresponds to their own ideas. A commissioned work, I could have done earlier, but I did not. In those ten years I have made many sacrifices and therefore had a clear idea that I may use when turning everything and going. I decided to tell immediately if I do not like something and if I can not verbalize the same thing that bothers me to gather myself for so long until I succeed – and then implement it the way I imagine it. Because I knew I only had that one chance. Great actors like Tukur are people who even feel the wrong idea – that the idea must be correct. Lead

is directed to me from an artistic point of never wise to concede everything but of feelings and thoughts. It is schizophrenic to some extent, because of course you have to be organizational matters very reasonable. My motto was to stay with myself, will not compromise. I knew that I would keep to it, so I was not excited.

What is the aesthetic idea you’ve followed in relation to furnishings and colors?

We had a very clear picture of Use of colors. We have tried to reinforce the dominant trends in the GDR, namely by reduction. There was more green than blue in the GDR, so we have omitted entirely blue. Likewise, more orange than red: thus was eliminated red. Certain shades of brown, beige, orange, green and gray, we have consistently used and thus an authentic aesthetic image of the GDR achieved these years. Void is an aesthetically neutral state. With the budget constraints we could not do much to build. So we got where we could not produce authentic beauty is set to reduce to maintain the visual quality at a high level. We did not want to overload “DDR-props”. For me, the image must provide the perfect backdrop for the emotions of the actors, no more and no less. I do not want the viewer begins to think about individual props or stains on the wall or any other conceptual issues, and thus missed the emotional connection to the characters. Fortunately, my team was there totally on my wavelength. How ever, in almost all issues. Silke had me at the beginning of the preparation predicted that we would think no later than the rotation all together as a unit and feel. When she said it, the thought struck me as odd. But it actually happened like that.

Courtesy of Buena Vista International

Title: The Lives of Others – An Interview with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

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