Goodbye Lenin!

culture

We've been meaning to go and see the film Goodbye Lenin! for weeks, but we only got around to actually going yesterday evening. We both love watching films, but the cinema is a slightly inconvenient distance away so apathy often overwhelms any film-watching urges. Certain films really make hauling your body out of the door worth it though, and 'Goodbye Lenin!' is certainly in that category.

The film, directed by Wolfgang Becker, tells the story of a family living in the Communist GDR, from the point of view of the son--Alexander. When the father leaves the family and escapes to the West, the mother has a nervous breakdown, and spends months in a hospital, not speaking to anyone. When she recovers, she becomes a fanatical poster-girl for the Communist regime, writing supportive but critical letters to the Party leaders about such burning issues as the skimpy sizing of the regulation knickers. So when she sees Alexander being beaten up by the police while participating in a pro-democracy demonstration, the cognitive dissonance it produces is enough to give her a heart attack. She spends the next eight months in a coma, while Alexander does everything he can to bring her back.

By the time she comes out of the coma, everything she knows has changed; the Berlin wall has fallen, the Communist regime has gone, and Burger King™ and Coke™ have moved in. The doctor warns Alexander that she must not be excited or upset, or she might have another heart attack--this time, a fatal one. So Alexander weaves a complicated illusion that nothing has changed. Or rather, he creates a fictional GDR, where everything is as he wishes it might have been--not how it actually was.

The film is funny, touching and gently satirical, and the characters are very engaging. It's certainly worth dragging yourself out for if it's showing in your area, or you could just wait until the DVD comes out.

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