Within German cinema, one can identify a particular type of films taking place in, and thematizing issues of, the former East German state. Given the undemocratic nature of the GDR, these films are particularly suited to discuss the way that people react to a status quo: whether by accepting it and conforming to it, or by rejecting and subverting it in various ways. These different options appear in the two films analysed in this essay. Coming Out (1989) by Heiner Carow was filmed in the GDR, and charts a gay man 's process of acceptance of himself. The Lives of Others (2006) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck looks back at the GDR 's past, and more specifically at the actions of the Stasi. Its plot, set in 1984, follows a Stasi agent 's “conversion” to political subversion and to being a “good man”. First, this essay will examine the representation of acceptance of the status quo in these films, before turning to the portrayal of subversion. Lastly, it will highlight some of the negative aspects of the subversion depicted – such aspects being introduced either in a conscious and critical way, or not.
First, acceptance of the status quo occurs in its internalization by the characters. At this stage, they do not question the rules of the society in which they live. Thus, in Coming Out, Philipp tries to fit into the dominant heterosexual model by settling into domestic life with his fiancée, because he has internalized homophobia, having lived in a heterosexist society all