Das Leben der Anderen

Gabriel Yared and Stéphane Moucha

 
" A very moving score that easily enhances the required emotional tension of the film. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Das Leben Der Anderen (The Life of Others) was an enormous success in Germany and the rest of the world seemed to love this film as well. It was directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and starred Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck and others. The film's story takes us back to the time when Germany was divided and the Socialist Party's power in the East was ensured by the Stasi secret service. Stasi officer Wiesler was ordered to shadow the successful stage writer Georg Dryman and his wife, but begins to change as he sees what the West has to offer in culture and ideas. Slowly, he begins to think his life is pointless.

In 2005, the director asked Gabriel Yared, his favourite composer, to score Das Leben Der Anderen. The composer went to a few meetings with the director, read the script and then began writing some music. Due to other obligations (Breaking and Entering) he had limited time to be around for the length of the entire process and asked Stéphane Moucha to help him. Moucha orchestrated four of Yared's previous scores (Possession, Lisa, Premier de Cordée, Autumn in New York) and collaborated in writing the music for Les Marins Perdus. Their good relationship ensured a smooth musical transition, for which Yared had begun to sketch the overall idea. You can roughly say that Yared composed the music before they shot the film and Moucha finished the music afterwards. They called each other until the very end of the process and Moucha again orchestrated the score by himself.

Both saw how thematic material was rejected and they had to start all over again. In an early stage, Yared had written a sonata (Die Sonate vom Guten Menschen) which was going to function as a theme, but ended up being played by the lead character as a piece of source. Actor Sebastian Koch listened to the piece a lot and learned to play it himself with the help of a piano teacher. He convinced Yared to write a slower version, which to his opinion would be more dramatic and somewhat easier to learn to play. Director Donnersmarck's initial idea was to have a lot more music, but changed his mind after having spotted the film with both composers. Many will associate the music more with Yared than Moucha, but make no mistake about this; it features both composers' trademarks. If one could only see how much of an influence Moucha was, as an orchestrator, on past Yared projects In an interview Yared made no attempt to reveal who wrote what and he thought it was of no importance.

The score's strength is the subtle melancholic sound and fragile melodies that deeply move you. The opening cue sets the mood with a moving string section that captures both the sadness and a dangerous tension that defines the picture. The music was performed by the Prague Philharmonic orchestra, with piano and other solo instruments. I would say that it's quite a regular setup. What makes me so impressed by the music, is how carefully the adagio-like main theme slowly sketches the emotional impact on someone who's beginning to find out how wrong he's been living his life. A romantic theme, played by harp and guitar and enriched by piano and orchestra, supports the Stasi officer even more when he begins to adore the people and their other way of living more and more. And last, but not least, there's a brilliant, ominous theme (first heard in the opening cue) for the Stasi, performed by driving bass ostinato and string-chords. The theme hints at authority and unpleasantness of the organization and is as familiar as a military march is to the army (but more dramatic).

Overall, it's a very moving score that easily enhances the required emotional tension of the film. I'd suggest it to anyone who's fond of other music of both inspiring composers. However, I do hold a grudge against the first score release from Colloseum (march 2006), because score is mixed with horrible pop music from the 80's. Therefore I recommend either the Cinemania35 release (score plus four classical pieces) or Varèse Sarabande (only score) release, which were both released in 2007.

Tracklisting

1. The Invisible Front (2.43)
2. HGW XX/7 (5.34)
3. Gral: Ernst Ludwig Petrowsky (2.37)
4. E.W. als Gruß: Ernst Ludwig Petrowsky (2.33)
5. Linienstraße (2.51)
6. The Betrayal (2.05)
7. Champus-Lied: Angelika Mann (3.29)
8. Ich würde, wenn ich wüßte, daß ich könnte: 4PS (4.00)
9. The Lives of Others (5.14)
10. Sonata for a Good Man (1.40)
11. Wie ein Stern: Frank Schöbel (6.20)
12. Stasi Informant "Martha" (4.23)
13. Rock'n Roll im Stadtpark: Pankow (3.24)
14. Stell dich mitten in den Regen: Bayon (5.17)
15. Faces Of Love (3.32)
16. Georg Dreyman, Dramatist (1.28)
17. Es gibt Momente: Hansi Biebl (5.06)
18. Albatros: Karat (8.12)
19. Tausend Augen: Silly (4.32)

Total Length: 75.00
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(total of 22 votes - average 4/5)

Released by

Varèse Sarabande 302 066 818 2 (regular release 2007)
Varèse Sarabande 302 066 818 2 (regular release 2007)
Varèse Sarabande 302 066 818 2 (regular release 2007)