The Lives of Others is a riveting, poignant, factually and emotionally perfect movie about central European communism, in particular East Germany. It depicts this era in microcosm, not as Fateless or Schindler's List do the Nazi era. It is the particular lives of the characters that energize this movie. It has intellectual punch, but avoids outright didacticism. And it is an exciting story as well. Now it may have a bit more impact on me as someone who actually lived a part of my early life in exactly the circumstances recounted here but I think that isn't really what makes the movie excellent even for me. It is, also, perhaps the first time I heard the term "socialism" used as it should be, instead of all the romanticized, sentimental uses one encounters among too many contemporary political theorists and other intellectuals in the West. Don't walk, don't even just run, but sprint to see it.