Goodbye Lenin is a political love story set in East Germany around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The film provides a fleeting glimpse into one of the major events in modern European history, touching many important political and social issues
The question then was the East Germany really alive in 1989-90? It seems almost incredible watching this clever, poignant movie from director Wolfgang Becker that delivers the shock of the new and the shock of the old. We get a reconstruction of Berlin in the old German Democratic Republic. Those Alexanderplatz’s tatty architecture, the spluttering Trabants, the border guards doing their pompous and the lost world of communist East Germany looks so distant that people in the street might as well be discussing the Versailles Treaty.
Everything seems yesterday, relating to the history!! Recalling bunch of people gather round the TV and scream with joy as Chris Waddle misses his World Cup penalty….But it wasn’t Germany he was putting into the final, but West Germany, the entity carved out in 1945….. Just reminiscing the face of Germany again in 1990…..Berlin has been a testimonial of histories and ideologies.
The story of Goodbye Lenin is about a working class single mother, Christiane, and her 20-year old son, Alexander, live in a tiny East Berlin flat in the last days of Stalinism.
Christiane is a socialist, loyal to the Party, but not scared to oppose the Stalinist leadership via letter campaigns and lobbying bureaucrats on issues such as the shoddy goods produced by a bureaucratically mismanaged workers’ state.
After her husband had apparently run away to the West, she goes into deep depression but after recovering she “remarries to the socialist fatherland”. The movie shows dramatic scenes of the mass rallies against the Stalinist regime in which Alexander is caught up. His mother witnesses her son being savagely beaten by the police during a rally and promptly collapses and goes into a coma. During her unconsciousness the regime collapses and, thanks to the lack of a democratic socialist alternative, capitalism is re-established in the GDR and the country reunited with West Germany.
The movie subtlety shows how the improvement in consumer goods and political freedom go hand-in-glove with a destruction of state services. Alexander’s sister has to give up her degree course to work for Hungry Jacks. The nostalgia for the benefits of the old regime explains this movie’s massive popularity in Germany.
A Rip Van Winkle parable unfolds here, showing a world that changed, or seemed at the time to change, with extraordinary speed. It combines satire of the communist state and its desperate and sentimental delusions and state-sponsored infantilism…..When Christiane recovers in hospital, Alexander, desperate to avoid a fatal shock to his mother when she discovers the fall of East Germany, reconstructs the old society in her bedroom. There are hilarious moments as he lovingly protects his mother from the truth using old East Germany goods and unconvincing friends to play charades for her.
The deep love of a son for his mother and the complex political message makes this movie well worth seeing, and a rare story celebrated in the movies or anywhere else – a boy’s love for his mother.
- Director: Wolfgang Becker
- Writer: Bernd Lichtenberg
- Production year: 2003
- Runtime: 121 mins
- Language: German
- Cast: Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Sass, Maria Simon
Goodbye Lenin’ is hailed as the Best European Film at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival and winner of of 9 German (Lola) Film Awards including Best Film, Best Direction and Best Actor. This heart-warming film took more money at the German box office in its first month than the Harry Potter films