>> Tuesday, 15 September 2009
It is not just the rain and my studies which I’m about to meet again now that fall approaches, but some inner feelings. I wish I knew if everyone feels something similar; for me, it’s likely some months ago I put a stream of thoughts away among the scarfs and the blankets. This seasonal changing finds expression in a simple thing that summarizes it all: unlike the rest of the year, at fall I watch movies. I like to think it’s related to sit in front of a fire when the sun’s strength begins to weaken, as the nights get longer. It’s not that odd, since everything is so complicated that for us is easier and cheaper to watch a movie than to have a hearth at home.
Last fall, the movie I enjoyed the most was Das leben der anderen (The Life of Others). So thoroughly amazed was I that now one of my favourite books is the one that read the two main characters in the movie. The book belongs to Georg Dreyman, a playwright living in East Berlin in the eighties who’s spied by the ruling party, the Socialist Unity. State Security captain Gerd Wiesler is bugging Dreyman, and he listens everything that happens in his appartment hidden in the loft of the building so that he can prove his disloyalty to the party.
One day, Wiesler enters the appartment to look around and he notices a book among Dreyman’s belongings. He lies down on the sofa and reads it. We see now Wiesler’s feelings for the first time in the movie. The book is an anthology of poetry by Bertolt Brecht and he reads a fragment of the poem “Erinnerung an die Marie A.”:
Memory of Marie A.
On a certain day in the blue-moon month of September
Beneath a young plum tree, quietly
I held her there, my quiet, pale beloved
In my arms just like a graceful dream.
And over us in the beautiful summer sky
There was a cloud on which my gaze rested
It was very white and so immensely high
And when I looked up, it had disappeared.
— Bertolt BRECHT, “Remembrances of Marie A.”, in Die Hauspostille (1927) (S. H. transl.)
As the movie goes on, Wiesler, who’s heartless and cold, changes until he becomes a good man, thanks to the art and the love he sees in Dreyman’s life. This poem is not lightly picked as a symbol of freedom and love. Brecht’s goal was to contribute to the social change with his plays. He also worked in cinema, one of his films was forbidden by the nazi regime, and he exiled in the United States. Established in Hollywood, he was involved in the McCarthy Witch-Hunt and he had to go back to Europe.
His poem means not only the love itself but also Wiesler love for free ideas, the life which he’s been brought to while he was bugging Dreyman, and his need to run away from the party he works for. He steals the book, he keeps reading it, and his life will certainly change.
... So, this is the kind of things I’m glad to meet again every fall in my spare time, all of them gathered in the movies and just waiting to be disclosed.