Contemporary comedies rarely stretch themselves beyond a bickering romantic couple or a bickering couple and a bucket of bodily fluids, which makes the ambition and intelligence of Good bye, Lenin! not simply entertaining but downright refreshing. The movie starts in East Germany before the fall of communism; our hero, Alex (Daniel Bruhl), describes how his mother (Katrin Sass), a true believer in the communist cause, has a heart attack when she sees him being clubbed by police at a protest. She falls into a coma for eight months--during which the Berlin Wall comes down. When she awakens, her fragile health must avoid any shocks, so Alex creates an illusive reality around his bedridden mother to convince her that communism is still alive. Good bye, Lenin! delicately balances wry satire with its rich investment in the lives of Alex, his mother, and other characters around them. Funny, moving, and highly recommended. --Bret Fetzer
Good Bye Lenin Yes, this movie is really that good, with some unforgettable scenes and some very moving ones. It is unforgettable when Alex's mother manages to leave the apartment and encounters a world entirely changed. There are other ideas the movie presents, as well, without ever beating the viewer over the head. Watch the final scenes and see how brilliantly Katrin Sass communicates volumes without speaking a word. Unfortunately, those who don't understand the East German/West German situation prior to 1989 might not get quite as much out of this movie. I still recommend seeing it! -- or reading something really brief about the events prior to and up to 1989, then seeing it. It's basically the story of a family, and a son who loves his mom so much that he -- quite literally -- changes the world for her....more info
Good Bye, Lenin! German with English subtitles. I'll summarize what's on the cover.
Alex and his family live in East Germany. His mother, a devoted Communist, goes into a coma. When she awakens, the Berlin Wall has fallen, but Alex hides this from her. She still has a weak heart, and the shock of Capitalism might be too much.
What a wonderful angle for approaching the reunification of Germany. A memorable blend of the dramatic and the comic. Not "laugh track" comic. Wit and a delicious sense of irony. Is that "East German humor" or just the filmmaker's sense of humor? Whatever it is, I love it. It's so unlike what I'm used to seeing.
Also, lest we forget, I live in a country that has opened to the West and is, for the most part, communist only in name now, so I'd like to laud the realism. When East met West in Germany in 1989, at times they seemed to be from two different planets. It's not like that in China, although it probably was when Nixon came to town. This is a remarkable film, well worth watching.
I've reviewed one other film about a pretense, by the way, but I didn't tell you about the pretense because I didn't want to spoil the surprise. It was LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, by an Italian director. In it, some Jews get sent to a concentration camp, but our hero convinces his son it's a voluntary trip to an exclusive holiday resort. Wow!
To continue digressing, to such a degree that Dr Z might be proud, I started writing a book where my hero had a specific type of amnesia. He lost 18 years, I think it was. When asked who the president was, he answered Bush, but he meant the first one. My little joke. I really wanted to do the time warp here, and how you'd do things differently if you suddenly became the person you were 20 years ago. Then 9/11 came along. I didn't want to write about it. Plus, the original project was getting boring, so I just scrapped it. ...more info
Reality is a Construction. "Good Bye Lenin" (2003) is a great film that transcend the anecdote. Situated in the turmoil of a major historical event as the unification of Germany, it gives the viewer a deep insight on how social & political changes affect individual subjects.
The film has a comedy tonality, but do not let that deceive you; the main core is an acute inquiry on social, family and personal issues.
The plot is as follows: Mother (an excellent and shrewd Katrin Sa?) is an East German housewife whose husband, an eminent physician, deserts to the West living her with her two little kids. She suffers a nervous break down and remains six month in psychiatric clinic. When she recovers she launches herself into a communist militant life.
On one special celebration night, Mother sees his young son Alex (Daniel Br¨¹lh), arrested during an anti-government demonstration and suffers a brain attack that leaves her unconscious for eight months. These months are critical for Germany. The communist regime goes down and the reunification is a reality. When she regains consciousness the doctors tell Alex she must remain in the hospital, because any emotional alteration may be fatal.
Notwithstanding Alex decide to bring his mother back home. But home has changed adapting to new times: new furniture, new kitchen tools, new... everything. Alex & his sister Ariane (Maria Simon) dismantle all and reconstruct the "old home". Mother is installed in her bedroom and Alex with the help of his friends "create" for her a virtual pre-change "reality". Alex's efforts to mend "reality intrusion" give way to incredible funny situations.
On this backdrop many interesting questions arises: What is reality? Were changes beneficial to ordinary people? Could the mass media alter our perception of what's going on? Each viewer will have his own answers. The film is undoubtedly a thought provoking one.
Love at the interior of a family nucleus, shows up as a healing tool of great power.
A very moving film to enjoy & discuss!
Reviewed by Max Yofre.
Excellent with extras you can't miss A wonderful view of East Germany, both before and after the wall. The special features were amazing, showing the design of the levitating Lenin and the fabricated 'dirty' Germany. ...more info
Brilliant Utopian Vision for Mother... The young man, Alex (Daniel Bruhl), is being brutally arrested by the police in DDR days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The mother Christiane (Katrin Sass), who is heavily involved in the political party, witnesses the arrest of her son, which leads to her having a severe heart attack and coma. When Alex is released from prison and finds out that his mother is in a coma and while she is in this coma the Berlin Wall falls. Germany unites at the same time as Coca Cola, MacDonalds, and other western multinational companies enter the former DDR. It is a tough time for the people of the former DDR as they are forced into deflation of currency, unemployment, and poverty. The world as Alex's mother once knew is suddenly gone when she miraculously awakened from her coma. An unqualified doctor that has remained within the former DDR informs Alex that his mother could die from sudden shock.
The mothers condition leads the film into a comical, yet serious roller coaster where good intentions, fear, and love drive Alex's decisions. The decisions that Alex makes brings to the film a nostalgia of the former DDR's good intentions in politics as well as Alex's own vision of utopia. The utopia that Alex creates is based on equality, fairness, and goodness without Stasi, the former secret police in DDR that functioned by having one informant per 100 citizens. Alex even fabricates the idea that Coca Cola is an invention by the DDR in order to protect his mother's health.
Good Bye Lenin! is a warm film with the notion of a better world projected in order to save one person. This idea is noble and it works very well as it brings the audience a sincere idea of utopia. This utopian vision is based on a large number of lies, which has a symbolic meaning related to human nature. In the end, Good Bye Lenin! offers a brilliant cinematic event.
An All Time Favorite This film has been reviewed many times here so I won't recap the story elements but simply say that this is a wonderful, warm and moving film that I will watch again many times!...more info
Iron Curtain ironies Oft-repeated images of East Germans joyfully surging through breaches in The Wall have obscured who was left behind. In this charming story, we learn not all the DDR's residents resisted socialism. Nor was reunification an unmodified blessing for all. A half-century of Western propaganda's view of the East has blinded us to such people as Christiane Kerner. Abandoned by her husband, who's fled to the West, she "marries" the socialist state, becoming a dedicated worker. Seeing her son pummeled by Stasi agents during a demonstration, Christiane suffers a heart attack, lapsing into a coma. Alexander, as devoted to her as she is to socialism, strives to assist her survival. The surrounding world strives to defeat him.
Honecker's DDR is collapsing around the family leaving Alexander with the task of trying to restore the past. His mother's survival, when she awakens, depends on his success. As the "man of the family" he struggles to keep his sister, her boyfriend, his own new girlfriend and his mother's colleagues on stage in his bizarre scenario. Food jars are re-labelled, TV news is contrived and the new world of "freedom" is kept away. However, the pressure of Coca Cola and Burger King is strong - and Alexander must cope with them all.
Ironies abound in this stunning presentation of "the other side". Alexander describes the DDR military as "the world's last great shooting club". A demonstration becomes people "getting together for a little exercise". Christiane's dedication, which has nothing to do with politics or philosophy, is intense, but not absolute. She hungers for what she already has, but remains unfulfilled. Socialism isn't perfect - she streams complaint letters to the authorities. Her "marriage" to the ideal is reminiscent of Christian nuns. Will she die "in the Faith" as so many others have done? Becker uses this and other images masterfully. The red banners of the DDR merge deftly those of Coca Cola, Germany's most recent invader.
Becker's imagery and dialogue presentation is vivid and subtle at once. He uses his characters brilliantly - Hitchcock would approve, even if there's no mystery to unveil. With a contrasting mix of slow and fast action, Becker depicts the upheavals surrounding the collapse of German socialism with stunning clarity. As the Special Features reveal, this film was cut by a third and the missing scenes are tantalising. An film worthy of all its awards and attention. Watch it and see "the other side" as it was. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]...more info
Good Bye, Lenin! Funny and heart-warming story about a family during the time of the collapse of the Berlin wall. For the whole family.
How about Good bye, Hitler? I watched the movie, I laughed at the jokes, I understand the plot but I simply cannot accept this movie as a defence-in-disguise of a regime that was positively criminal in nature. The mother in this movie is a diehard Communist-by-conviction. She is consistently portrayed as a good, idealistic Commie who had been let down by those evil power-hungry Commies - the subtle punchline being that Communist ideals are OK whereas the Cold War implementation in the Eastern Bloc was bad. Having lived on the wrong side of the Iron curtain for some time, I personally think that it was not just the implementation but that the Communist ideals are inherently flawed.
As the title of my review points out, most intelligent people would not accept a similar movie made on the basis of any other inhuman regime of the present or the past. Imagine a plot where a German Frau falls in a coma in March 1945, wakes up a few months later and her kids put up a show pretending the Fuhrer is still in charge. That would not be a great movie, it would be a scandal. And don't even get me started on Good bye, Jefferson Davis.
Look, the movie is entertaining, it is reasonably well done and it may even be educational for those who want to learn about the moods and public opinion in Germany around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But I cannot accept as great work of art something that makes the point of (even indirectly) defending oppression, inhumanity and intolerance. Hence 2 stars. ...more info
Heartfelt comedy to make you laugh and cry in equal measure All great comedy - truly great comedy - not merely spoof, explores emotional issues so deep that when you reach down that deep the only way to deal with it is to laugh. You have to laugh so as not to cry all the time. This is the rare comedy that brings you to that point.
The issues here are about living in a brave new world with new values and facing up to the loss of the old ones. It is about political upheaval and the emotional ones that accompany them. People from the former Eastern block say they recognise the figures in this movie like the old headmaster, a pillar of authority in the old order but a drunken has-been in the new one, or the celebrated German Democratic Republic cosmonaut who drives a taxi in the new world order. They are all delightfully halarious figures, but beneath the laughter they embody what is a sorry reality in a former Eastern Germany with its +20% unemployment rate. It is also about a past in which a Germany was torn in two and the family upheavals that this lead to, and then having to face up with its consequences. But ultimately it is a story of a son's dogged devotion to his dying mother - a love that knows no bounds.
The cinematography too is highly memorable - the scene with helicopters carrying out the statue of Lenin is very powerful for example. In fact the whole way the story is allow to unfold reveals the hand of a masterly director. As for the cast there is not a single weak link and the whole ensemble of actors comes together for a unanimous outburst of inspiration.
This is a truly wonderful movie - genuine funny, charming and heartwarming in equal measure. All movies should be this lovely and for that this has to be one of my favourite films of all time.
Very highly recommended to all and sundry, young and old!...more info
Different perspective The obvious reaction of any Westerner is that of most reviewers of this movie: seeing it as a comedy, where the weight and meat of the critique points out at the former socialist system, among many other things. This is what the film shows, isn't it?
This is what we see in the movie for sure. But at the end of it all, what is the meaning behind all those images and dialogues?
As someone who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Romania and was in Germany during those early nineties, the perception is different.
Sure the standards of living in the East and West were as different as night and day. This is no secret, and one doesn't need a new movie, especially the Germans, to remind them of that. Retro-propaganda - "look how bad, how pathetic it all was"? Come on.
The real question is how much of the message in the movie points out at the inability of the new system, the capitalist one, to at least try to create an ideal world.
Alex's mom shock can't come from the ideological differences between the two systems. Most of the reviewers missed this. The hint is right there in the movie: the principal sacks her specifically because of her idealistic views.
But ideology is not juxtaposable with idealism. In fact, the differences are astronomical.
She wasn't a party ideologue. She was "just" an idealist.
Her son knew her vital need for an ideal world, or at least for a world that is striving towards an ideal.The system change would have robbed her of that hope.
The end of the movie has a symbolic meaning, and it applies to all former socialist countries: there was a trade off. And for the most part is for the better. Something irreplaceable though died.
The Germans, at least those in the former East, along with the rest of the Eastern block countries, don't need a Michael Moore style critique to get the message: this IS as good as it gets...more info
WOLFGANG BECKER, OPUS 4 ***** 2003. Co-written and directed by Wolfgang Becker. Six European Film awards. A few months before the fall of the Berlin wall, Alex's mother suffers from a heart attack and falls into coma. When she wakes up months later, her family fears that she won't be able to face the new political reality. Instructive, poignant and fascinating, GOOD BYE, LENIN! deserves all the international awards it earned 5 years ago. Masterpiece....more info
The things we do for love This German movie may have elements that Americans miss, but the underlying story is universal -- what a young man who loves his mother will do. The film is set in East Berlin and begins right before the reunification (the destruction of the Berlin Wall). The young man (Alex) has a mother who is a faithful Communist Party member who was abandoned by their father, who left for the West. After she has a heart attack that leaves her in a coma for months before finally regaining consciousness, he wants to take her home to care of her. The doctors warn him that any shock could kill her, and he thinks that hearing about the collapse of communism in Germany might do it. So he brings her home and sets about creating an environment for her in which East and West Germany are still separate. Even though she's bedridden, it's not easy. He insists that the radio is broken but she wants to watch TV, so he has to create news broadcasts for her to go in with the videotapes they are using to simulate television. She wants her favorite brand of East German pickles -- no longer available. He jumps through all kinds of hoops keeping up this charade despite the pleas of his sister and his girlfriend to tell his mother the truth.
Obviously a lot of this movie is about the politics of Germany -- and it raises some questions about what constitutes the good life. Is it free access to Coca-Cola or is a less stressful life better?
My only criticism would be that the movie is perhaps a bit long. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more info
Underrated Wolfgang Becker's 2003 film, Good Bye Lenin!, is not a great film, but it is far better than the usual Hollywood tripe, as well as being a cut above most independent films released by filmmakers not named John Sayles. The two hour long film was written by Becker, Bernd Lichtenberg, Hendrik Handloegten, Christoph Silber, and Achim von Borries, and has a unique, if strained premise- that as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 a devout East German Communist flunky, Christiane Kerner (Katrin Sa?), who lived in East Berlin fell into a coma after a heart attack and when she woke eight months later, her whole world changed, but her devoted son decides to recreate the fallen state so as to not be such a great shock to his mother's system.
While the machinations that the son, Alex Kerner (Daniel Br¨¹hl- a better looking Ashton Kutcher), his girlfriend Lara (Chulpan Khamatova)- a Russian nurse who was tending to Christiane, sister Ariane (Maria Simon), brother-in-law Rainer (Alexander Beyer), and neighbors go to reveal an occasional chuckle, the film could really have been something special- and great, had it played the drama closer to reality. This is not to say that there are not sweet and funny moments, but they cannot compare with such a great premise and the potential for a real exploration into the human psyche and politics' place within it could have provided. That said, the film, as is, is a very good one, and the acting is stellar. So is how the film deftly avoids falling into being a screed or one dimensional propaganda piece against Communism. We can see the failings of that system when we see how Alex struggles to get a certain type of pickle brand, Spreewald pickles, so his mother will not know the difference. When we see him and his friend Denis (Florian Lukas) ridiculously try to simulate old East German tv newscasts we see how self-defeating a system that denies ingenuity and individuality is. To wave that about as a club is bastardizing the art of the film. If only more artists would learn what Becker's film knows.
What makes Good Bye Lenin! work as a film is not its political implications, nor the political setup, but the human moments, and it is the relative lack of them vis-¨¤-vis the film's length that make the film both a joy and bit of a disappointment, for it seems to be a mix of the old television movie of the week formula from the 1970s and a European arts film, and does not fully succeed either way. The film's lack of poesy is its greatest flaw. But, taken as it is, Good Bye Lenin! is a most worthwhile film and a good chronicle of a clan in an era now passed, long passed, it seems. If other films failed as well as this one does, well, would not success really be a thing?
Excellent movie! I have lived in Germany, and my wife is from East Germany, and she and I both loved this movie. It is funny, sweet, relevant, charming, intelligent...did I say funny? The lead actor is appearing in a lot of good new movies, including "Ladies in Lavender" with Julie Dench which is also great....more info
Funny, slightly surreal comedy on the merger of East and West Germany If you don't mind reading subtitles (or, of course, you understand German) this movie is great. Some of the humor is visual, some verbal, so you have to be good with subtitle reading.
The humor is subtle, that is to say it is tongue in cheek, not slapstick. It is not a political film, though it presents itself in a political context.
The R rating is not really deserved - there is a little nudity but there is nothing shocking in the movie.
It is a nice view into the lives of East Germans during the early chaotic days of integration. I dare say life now in East Germany is more brutal and more cynical.
On "Socialist" Lies Some things are painful in life. As a life-long anti-Stalinist, pro-socialist militant the demise of the Democratic Republic of Germany and its theory of "socialism in half a country" and later, on its heels, the demise of the Soviet Union and its theory of "socialism in one country" were nevertheless social disasters of historic proportions for me. One result is that we live in the age of the one superpower world dominated by the United States and its genuine capacity for making trouble, militarily unchecked by any other power. Friends there is nothing good about that. Witness Iraq and many other hot spots in the world.
But enough of that because, despite my obvious different political take on what happened in East Germany in late 1989 and early 1990, this film Good Bye, Lenin is a very interesting view on what happened to one fictionalized family of mixed political and social sensibilities during that period. The film has been advertised as a comedy, and although there are some funny moments like the various attempts by some of the characters, including the main character son Alex, to create alternate social universes, there is more than a hint of satire (and sometimes localized `insider' satire) here. And satire is a very precious commodity in an age where everything is taken literally, whether it should be or not. Thus, a good prescription is -fight hard for your politics but take a minute to see humor in the sometimes absurd ways of this wicked old world.
The device used to create the central plot in this film has a long pedigree, although I believe that it might be the first time that it has been used in an attempt to preserve socialist reality. Quickly outlined, a son (the previously mentioned Alex) attempts, almost manically at times, to create "socialism in one bedroom" for his ailing mother who upon awaking in 1990 after eight months from a coma induced by a heart attack after witnessing him being beaten by the Statsi needs to, on doctor's advise, avoid any `excitement' on pains of relapse (and possible death). The dramatic tension revolves around an ever-widening and bizarre conspiracy (including drawing in his skeptical Russian girlfriend, his sister, her boyfriend, the neighbors, former colleagues, etc.) to keep mom in the dark about everything that has gone on during that time.
A subplot, however, reveals that Mom, in need of illusions as she might be, has secrets of her own in relationship to the whereabouts of her husband who left for West Germany in the past without his family, mainly because she balked at going for her own reasons. There are, additionally, many sight gags or things that pass for sight gags in a society that had a very limited exposure to the `virtues' of Western consumer society. But enough said, get this film if you want a very smart look at what happens when cultural changes come fast and furious. Not everyone can, or should, adjust accordingly. But also get it, if I may add, so that you can begin to understand why mother wanted to stick with the old socialist ways, as she understood that concept. And maybe fight for them, as well.
Love Means Never Having To Say You're Reunified Daniel Bruhl plays Alex, a teenager whose conservative mother Kathrin collapses from a heart attack after spotting him at a protest rally. She spends eights months in a coma, and during that time her homeland transforms -- the Berlin Wall comes down, and western commerce and attitudes flood into East Germany.
Kathrin re-awakens, but her health is extremely fragile, and Alex is warned by her doctors that she cannot handle excitement of any kind, much less the shock of the current capitalist explosion. Driven by guilt, he transforms her room, meals, family and friends into the past that she remembers, frantically resurrecting the Communist ideal that she reveres. Initially, the ruse is seamless, but as time goes on, Alex must work harder and harder to narrow an ever-widening gap between the past and present.
While the clever premise is irresistable and would seem the perfect vehicle for an ever-escalating farce, Becker takes a far more difficult (but ultimately more satisfying) route into a touching exploration of memory and the lives we create for ourselves and one other.
The cast is uniformly strong, and the romance between Alex and Lara (Chulpan Khamatova), a student nurse who cares for his mother, is sweet. The filmmaking is assured, with a nod to Stanley Kubrick while evoking the touching, bittersweet qualities of Lasse Hallstrom's "My Life As A Dog". There are touches of sped-up silliness, but they don't disrupt the film's spell....more info
The Fall of the Wall The Kerners are a happy family. Alex (Daniel Br¨¹hl) has grown up in East Germany without his father for years; he moved to the west for another woman when the children were very young. After that Alex and his sister Ariane (Maria Simon) have taken care of their mother (Katrin Sa?), a teacher for the DDR. When she succumbs to a heart attack, she falls into a coma for eight months and misses the fall of the Berlin wall and all of the changes that come with it. When she wakes, the doctors warn that any shock could cause another heart attack and kill her, so Alex and Ariane do their best to create life before the fall of the wall. It is not easy, and their deception is intricate and time consuming.
This film plays out like a typical Hollywood movie, so the language barrier is the only thing that would make this movie less popular among American audiences. The story is well played by all of the actors, especially Sa? who alternates between confusion and tranqulity very well. She is the anchor holding everything together. If you're looking for a good movie that alternates between comedy and drama with historical ties, Good-bye Lenin is an excellent choice....more info
Fantastic This film was more beautiful than I had imagined. Daniel Br¨¹hl is such an emotional actor that it is actually believable that a son would go through so much trouble as to create an East Germany to keep his already ailing and formerly comatose mother from dying from shock. The film is very sweet and charming, as all the supporting characters work like mad to keep the charade up for mother. And Katrin Sa? is convincing as an activist/protective mother whose life is turned upside down and she must be the one who is being taken care of. All in all, it is a truly wonderful film with an original concept, which is something viewers haven't seen in a while (considering the amount of prequels, sequels, and remakes that are being released). Don't be afraid of subtitles either. Once you know the basic plot, they are easy to follow....more info
The winds of change blow not in Christiane's bedroom As Goodbye Lenin opens, we learn that Christiane Kerner is a mother of two children, Alexander and Ariane, living in East Berlin in 1978. Following the flight of her husband to the West for another woman, she focuses on raising her children and being a dedicated German socialist. In other words, she becomes the bride of East Germany, being a teacher and helping dictate letters of complaint.
Eleven years later, on the eve of a demonstration in October 1989, she sees her son Alex being arrested, and collapses from a heart attack. However, she ends up in a coma due to her not being resuscitated in time. When she wakes up eight months later, she is in for a surprise...
Or at least that would've been the case. Under orders from the doctor, to keep her from anything stressful or exciting lest she suffer a second and ultimately fatal heart attack, Alex, with the aid of his new West German friend Denis Domaschke, with whom he works flogging off satellite dishes in the newly liberated East Germany, contrives to make sure that in her eyes, nothing has changed. This means restoring her bedroom back the way it was, furnishings and all, with no radio and TV.
This becomes a vehicle for Denis, who aspires to be a feature film director, to edit some news footage and himself as news anchor, for the East German news videos for Christiane's eyes only. When Christiane accidentally catches sight of a Coca Cola banner outside her window, Denis comes up with a propaganda news broadcast that it was actually East Germany that had invented Coca Cola! This is just a series of well-meaning lies Alex constructs to keep his mother alive, to the consternation of Ariane, who is put out with the inconvenience of having to live back into a Stalinist East Germany by choice after having a taste of real freedom. He also tries to get a few of his mother's old colleagues to go along with the farce, not to mention paying off some kids to dress up like the Young Pioneers, the communist youth, and sing communist songs to his mother.
Yet while Christiane has been sleeping like Rip Van Winkle, she misses the resignation of General Secretary Erich Honecker, the collapse of the Wall, which led to a "unique recycling project," her son's newly found liberation, such as going to the West, and meeting Lara, a beautiful Russian student nurse. Ariane, in the meantime, drops out of college to become part of "economic circulation," translation: "thank you for choosing Burger King." She herself finds a new flame, her co-worker Rainer. The country itself becomes transformed, its supermarkets into "gaudy consumer paradises, where the consumer was king," and in addition to Germany being the center of world attention, the country's victories in the World Cup adds to the excitement, where West Germany eventually beat Argentina 1-0 in the finals. So when Alex goes to the supermarket to find Spreewald pickles and Mocca Fix Gold coffee, he's SOL.
Speaking of music, if the piano during the scene when Christiane is being taken to the countryside is familiar, it's because it's by Yann Tiersen, who did the music for Amelie. In fact it's the same music used in the open title sequence of Amelie! What was that earlier about recycling?
It's apparent that the old East Germany before the wall is symbolized by the well-meaning Christiane, and the new liberated East Germany, soon to be unified Germany on 3 October 1990, by Alex, Ariane, and Lara, for whom the future is bright. But along with capitalism comes higher crime, greed, and decadent entertainment the likes of which had never seen the light of day since Weimar Germany. A wonderful cast is led by Daniel Bruhl (Alex), and Katrin Sass (Christiane). Goodbye Lenin is an important film on Germany's history, not to mention a sweet yet sad comedy on rolling with the winds of change, and celebrating one's mother and motherland....more info
German Gem "Goodbye Lenin" is an excellent film. Director Wolfgang Becher keeps the action fluid as one scene sparks the next. The French Academy of Cinema named it the Best Film from the European Union.
Daniel Bruhl is the star who plays the son Alex. He first came to my attention in Love in Thoughts and was in The Edukators. He has also played in "Ladies in Lavender" with Maggie Smith & Judy Dench and "The Borne Ultimatum." The European Film Academy named him Best Actor for "Goodbye Lenin". He does an excellent job as the young man shouldering responsibility long before he's ready.
Katrin Sass plays his mother Christiane. As an actress, she won the Silver Bear Best Actress award from the Berlin International Film Festival in 1982 for "Burgschaft ein Jahr" and won the James People's Choice Award as Best Actress for this film. Sass turns in an excellent performance in the greatly varied role from political activist to invalid.
The story of the film revolves around the family whose father has apparently left them. The mother raises her children in East Germany. She is quite attached to her country and suffers a heart attack as she watches her son at a protest rally. Falling into a coma, she awakes 8 months later to a reunified Germany where the wall has fallen. However, since her heart is very fragile, Alex concocts a huge fantasy to keep from his mother the fact that Germany has changed because he fears it would be too great a shock. This results in all sorts of hilarious antics such as searching for East German pickle jars and telling his mother that thousands of West Germans have been scaling the walls to get into East Germany and escape capitalism.
Chulpan Khametova plays his sister Lara who is busy having babies with her boyfriend Rainer played by Alexander Beyer. There is a hilarious scene where Beyer bears all as he tries to fix window blinds before bothering to dress. Meanwhile Alex falls for Ariane played by Maria Simon who appeared in the film Luther. Alex enlists his coworker Denis to help fake news broadcasts so they can play the tapes on his mother's TV. Florian Lukus as Denis is a stitch, wearing fake moustaches and pretending to be a TV news anchorman. Lukas won the Best Supporting Actor from the German Film Awards for his role. There is a reversal at the end of the film where we meet Alex & Lara's father Robert Kerner. Burghart Klaussner who was also in "The Edukators" plays Kerner. "Goodbye Lenin" is a German gem from 2003 that is a great film. Bravo!
High Grade Art. I first heard about this movie a week ago after reading an article in which a commentator described it as being a bit of "communist chic." This intrigued me so I had to check it out. Well, I'm happy to report that the fellow's opinion was nonsense. It's no more accurate a perception than one that misconstrued The Beatles "Back in the USSR" as an ode to the Soviet Union. This is not a propagandistic story in the least. It's a beautiful film about love, family, and truth. Basically, the central question concerns whether or not we should lie to loved ones if we think the lie will ultimately benefit them. The answer is not easy for the main characters or the audience. Goodbye, Lenin! provides us with ambiguity after ambiguity and is rife with the same nuance that fills our own lives. I saw nothing offensive about this film; indeed, it is a valuable work of art. ...more info
Delicate Humor and Pathos in a timely story This German film represents to me the constant question of what European movies by the likes of Fellini, Truffaut, Renoir and Bergman have that American movies don't which make these movies seem so much better than many American movies, while lacking many niceties sported by Hollywood movies which make them shine with a surface quality the European films lack. Why else would we bother to watch these flicks while keeping one eye on the action and another on the subtitles.
Fortunately, I know German, so I could keep both eyes on the action, checking the subtitles occasionally to check the accuracy of the translation. While not perfectly literal, it was a good translation into colloquial English, with even the occasional curse word properly translated, although there was rarely anything stronger than the German `Sheise'. The movie's `R' rating is a total mystery to me. There is some very brief nudity and sex, but hardly any language 13 year olds have not already heard aplenty. My best explanation for it is that the setting of the brief incidents is so believable that it may have a much stronger impact on a young viewer than sex or violence in an implausibly plotted Hollywood product. This is like `Lord of the Rings' receiving a PG-13 for `epic battle sequences and story images'.
There is little suspense in the story as much of it is summarized on the back of the jewel case, so I have no qualms in outlining it here. The story is all about a family of four living in East Berlin. In 1979, the doctor father leaves an East German family, nominally to live with a girlfriend in West Germany after leaving the East to attend a medical convention in Dusseldorf. The shock of the seeming abandonment sends the mother into a catatonia. After treatment at an East German sanitarium, she returns filled with zeal and idealism about East German socialism, vigorously following this path for eight years until 1989, when she has a heart attack upon seeing her son being arrested in a protest march against the Berlin wall. The attack is not treated as quickly as it should have been, so the mother remains in a coma for eight months. In this time, the East German communist party dissolves the Berlin wall is demolished and East and West Berlin and East and West Germany become one country. At this point, the mother awakes from her coma and doctors say she can experience no shocks, as they would probably drive her to a relapse. Since the son believes that hearing of the fall of the GDR (East Germany) would probably be such a shock, he insists on taking his mother home and editing everything she sees and hears with the help of a colleague who is a budding television producer. The chum gets old television newsreels and the two of them create new ones in a makeshift studio. One new newsreel has to be created when the mother sees a giant Coca-Cola banner on the wall of a tall building just outside their window. The cover story is that the poor giant Atlanta company had to have help from a large East German bottler to make their European bottling quotas. A second, more elaborate ruse must be constructed when the mother manages to wander out onto the street filled with western autos and, of all things, IKEA ads for `Billy' bookshelves on kiosks. The story is complicated by the sister's involvement with a West German and the drunken former principal at her school and mercenary former students bribed into singing for the mother in East German Pioneer scarves. The resolution with the family's father is something of a surprise, as is the resolution of the ruse about the East German regime.
There is certainly a lot of intentional humor in this movie, but it is really hard to call it a comedy. One of the most subtly funny moments was the `quote' from Fellini's `La Dolce Vita' where the mother sees the top half of a statue of Lenin being hauled off to some ignominious fate by a low flying helicopter. Writers and Director Wolfgang Becker replaced Fellini's statue of Christ with a statue of Lenin, leaving the viewer to make the connection. There are no gags and there is plenty of emotional pain and pathos, although the ending is logical and satisfying. The acting by the cast totally unknown to American experience is uniformly terrific. The other side of the coin is that it has the typically European lack of Hollywood veneer on its production values. The editing and direction are all good, but there are virtually no subtle touches in set decoration, set design, or cinematography. But, the story is so good, you hardly miss them.
The packaging proudly proclaims that the movie won 15 German and European film awards and was nominated for best foreign film by both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. I must look up the winner of those awards, as a film better than this one would be something to see.
As long as you have some taste for foreign films with subtitles, or know German, this movie will reward your watching it. Unlike a very select few foreign films like `La Femme Nikita' and `Run, Lola, Run', the movie may not have the kind of energy to overcome an aversion to subtitles, but I recommend it anyway. The version I saw in letterbox format had all subtitles below the film in the lower black bar, so there was absolutely no problem reading them, if you need them.
Not what I expected, but still maintains to be good. This was the first forgein i have bought, because i enjoyed the idea, i expected more dark comedy from it but was somewhat dissapointed but it is a very well put together film, this is a good renter to a moive connassuer or someone who is just trying out something new. ...more info
Simply Superb Goodbye, Lenin gets better every time I think about it. A comedy, a history lesson, a sweet-hearted story of filial love, the film impresses on every level and from every angle, including cinematic. For example, the scene that provides the visual image of the title, as the recovering mother looks out the window of her painstakingly recreated room, is at once simple, eloquent, and plainly unforgettable.
But is the mother really what she seems? That's the question and the final subtlety of the film. Consider: the long lie about the reason for her husband's flight to West Germany; the gadfly letters she writes for others to complain of the Communist society's products and practices; the fact that her heart attack occurs as she sees her son beaten by the Stasi; the murmuring scene with her son's girlfriend toward the end of the film; the way she watches her son even as she is watching the final elaborate hoax he has mounted to explain why East Germany no longer exists. And three days later he scatters her ashes, as clueless to her real nature and feelings about the East German state as, in a completely different context and movie, the son in The Deep End is about his Mom and what she did for him.
Whatever you have to do, don't miss this movie. ...more info
The fall of the wall and all new lives In this story a young man's mother has a heart attack, coincidently just before the collapse of the communism in the DDR. When she comes out of her coma East Germany is gone, swept into the dustbin of history, and along with it her status (for what it's worth) as a "Hero" of state socialism. To preserve her illusions and to prevent her fragile health from collapsing her son convinces friends and former coworkers to act as though the DDR goes on and contrives all sorts of elaborate ploys to make it appear as if the communsit state is still going on.
"Lie to me, I promise, I'll believe" -Sheryl Crow This movie tells the story of a family living in East Germany at a time of great political and social change. It explores many facets of love, lies and politics: the bond between a mother and her son, the love of kids for their mother compared to her love for them, the mistakes and lies of parents as compared to lies of children, politics and the economy ruling people's life, and love that actually rules every thing.
My words will not adequately describe this movie; you won't regret watching it! The son and the mother are both great actors who make you cry and laugh at the same time.
The wounds of a family and a nation are told through the marvelous acting of the mother and son. Watch the silly details as the son's little lie takes on a life of its own, and the irony of meeting his childhood hero, who is drawn into the son's web of lies. Watch the son creating his own East Germany; very funny and very powerful.
Such a wonderful movie, a lovely and new story played by great actors and delivered by good director.
Spreewald Pickles! Good Bye, Lenin! is a movie set in East Germany that starts in the late 70s. We watch a family, in the opening credits, in which the father has escaped to the West, leaving behind his wife, and two kids. Alex, the son, is the character who tells the story and we watch as the mother, broken and in pain from her husband dumping them, embraces socialism to the point where she is totally loyal to its ideals.
In 1989 she has a heart attack, falls into a coma, and misses the most important eight months in world history. The fall of the Berlin wall, the collapse of communism, frankly everything she believes in dies a swift, total death. Then she comes out of the coma and her son is warned by the doctor that ANY shock might bring another heart attack. Any shock. So her son has to make her think that NOTHING has changed.
The film is one of the funniest Non-English flicks I have EVER seen. The son has to find food she likes (that no longer exists), has to set up the TV with a VCR so she only watches shows from before the collapse and even has to organize her birthday with people who know that they have to pretend that history hasn't passed her by. Yet it has a serious underlining message about the importance of family that is touching (and sad at the same time) and I think a slight poke at materialism. Coca-Cola must have paid millions to get its name in so many scenes!
But Alex is not the only one making up lies. The mother has woven some lies of her own which end up coming out. The truth about their father.
The extras are great and this is a movie you should get at all cost, used or new.
A good bitter-sweet film I saw this movie in its German DVD version, and it's a good bitter-sweet film. Not an all-time great film, but a very good one. Daniel Br¨¹hl does his usual fine work in the role of Alex, and the rest of the cast is also above-average, particularly Katrin Sass as his mother. It's 1989. Alex and his single, divorced mom Christine live in a tiny apartment in East Berlin. Shortly before the Berlin Wall falls and East Germany becomes history, Alex's mother, a dedicated party activist and DDR supporter, has a heart attack and falls into a coma - and misses the triumph of capitalism. Eight months later, her miraculous awakening and recovery present Alex with a dilemma: How to protect his mother's weakened heart from the shock of Coca-Cola, Burger King, Audis and Mercedes. His efforts to protect her arise partly out of guilt. After all, his loyal communist mother collapsed after seeing him participating in an anti - DDR demonstration. But he quickly discovers that his plan to protect mom by creating an artificial "DDR" within their small apartment faces huge obstacles. One of them is a huge Coca-Cola banner hanging within sight of their apartment window. Another is where to find all the old East German products that vanished within months of the demise of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. His efforts to keep all the historical changes from his mother are both funny and poignant. In the process, Alex reinvents history and creates an entirely new version of what happened while his mother was in a coma. One of the funnier tricks Alex uses to do this is a fake TV news broadcast.
An honest film about lying Although marketed as an all-out comedy, Goodbye, Lenin! is in many ways more of a feelgood tragicomedy about the nature of lies rather than a laugh-a-minute sidesplitter. Certainly the premise has all the makings of farce as East German Daniel Bruhle has to go to increasingly desperate lengths to keep the news that communism and the Berlin Wall have both fallen from his Party activist mother when she emerges from a coma for fear the shock will cause a fatal heart attack. Since the pace of change to Western values and fashions has been so rapid that means finding their apartment's long discarded drab furniture, seeking out now discontinued East German brands of pickles and coffee and even faking DDR news reports with his fellow satellite TV installer as he tries to recreate the old East Germany within the borders of his mother's bedroom (not so easy with Coca Cola setting up shop just across the road), in the process gradually creating the more reasonable DDR he wished had existed. The laughs are there but less frequent than you'd expect, and often underlined with the sadness of a country suddenly forced to confront years of deprivation and betrayal: his sister's revelation of the first words their long-absent father spoke to her is initially funny but genuinely tragic on reflection, and the film manages to pull off both reactions without over-milking them. Nor does it sugar-coat the ending, opting for something rather more affecting than a simple Happy Ever After. Chalk up another quiet winner for the 21st Century German film industry Renaissance.
Oh so witty! Excellent movie! It's loaded with insider jokes. We were laughing out loud the whole movie. For Americans or anyone else unfamiliar with East Germany it's still a fabulous movie (just not as funny). You have to see it. "Unsere Heimat..." :)...more info
An Enjoyable and Original Film GOODBYE, LENIN! is an enjoyable and original film. It is a blend of both comedy and drama. The plot of the film is simple enough. It is told through the perspective of Alex Kerner (played by Daniel Bruhn) who tells the story of his mother (Kathryn Sass), a loyal member of the Communist party who is abandoned by her husband and has to raise her children alone. The mother has had some difficulties in the past and the children become very protective of her, especially Alex. Like many young people, Alex is involved in protests against the oppressive East German regime and when his mother witnesses his arrest, she has a heart attack and is comatose for eight months. She misses the major historic upheavals, including the fall of the Berlin Wall. When she awakens, her doctor recommends a no stress lifestyle and her children decide that the best way for this to happen is to make it as if the Berlin Wall never fell, and try to create a mini communist nation in the family's apartment. The antics of Alex provide for humorous situations. He quickly becomes westernized but reverts to former ways when he is at home. He and a friend devise ways to rebroadcast old news stories and slowly brace the mother for the changes. While clever humor is found throughout the film, it never becomes silly, a credit to skillful writing. We also see the bonds of love between the Kerner family, particularly mother and son, and get a glimpse of the heart wrenching decisions people had to make during the bleak years of Communist rule in a divided Germany.
Critics can say that the film is implausible at best, yet the combination of the acting and writing, as well as the lighting and atmosphere of the film make it entirely believable. It also gives us an appreciation of just how life changing the fall of the wall was, and hwo different the world has become in a short time.
Unusual German movie I had missed this movie while it was in the theaters. It was praised highly in a book about the history of post-WW2 Europe and I decided to buy it to watch it.
It is set in East-Germany. A mother, a convinced communist, whose husband has fled to West Germany, has a heart attack and falls into a coma when her son is arrested by the Stasi Eastern police. While she is in the coma, the communist government collapses and the Wall is taken down. As she slowly recovers from the coma, her physician advices her son, that any excitement could kill her. So, her son, together with some friends, decides to fake for her the continuation of the communist government on TV. But the real world interferes, when, for example, a huge Coca-Cola poster appears on a building across the street. The movie is, on occasion, very funny. In German with English subtitles.
A VERY PLEASANT SURPRISE! A very pleasant surprise, Goodbye Lenin!, brings to the screen exactly what the title implies: the story of a family in post-communist East Germany (the former GDR/DDR), coping with the hardships of German re-unification.
I have to admit that I did not know what to expect from the film, but as it turns out it was a very pleasant and entertaining movie.
The plot and the acting are AMAZING; the cast have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least. All the actors, without exceptions, give it their 100% and it really shows (the chemistry is something else)! Very well written and very well presented, the movie is without a doubt guaranteed to provide more than just a few laughs, not to mention a few tears. The film is simple enough, but does a great job of describing eastern German people's every day lives and the problems they've been facing since re-unification. It just goes to show that simplicity is often far better than complexity, when trying to present issues of a human nature.
In short, Goodbye Lenin!, is a movie definitely worth watching, as it will surely provide for an evening's entertainment!
Fantastic! This film was fantastic. I throughly enjoyed the humor, and especially the nostalgia of it. Some of the humor may be a little over the heads of Americans (sorry!) but it's still worth watching! Sehr Gut! :-)...more info
The beginning of the end Before the Berlin Wall fell, East Germany is ruled by Communist Russia and its citizens were forced to live a lie- a society that is supposed to be based on equality and social justice. Alex Kernel (played by the amazing Daniel Br¨¹hl) is a young disillusioned young man who, together with his fellow East Germans, are on the verge of a revolution and social change.
While walking together with fellow rallyist, Alex was arrested and his mother, who witnessed the scene, suffered a heart attack. While his mother survived, it left her in a coma and for 8 months, Alex and his older sister Ariane took care of her. As East Germany became no more and the reunification of his homeland was completed, his mother woke up. What follows is a hilarious, amusing and at times serious and thought-provoking attempt to shield his mother from the sweeping changes and their altered life as citizens of the newly unified Germany.
Director Wolfgang Becker spared no expense to capture a time and place that now exist only in old, yellowed newspapers and history books. The finished product, a film that is not only a realistic social commentary but also a love story between a son and a mother, and the journey a young restless soul need to travel to discover himself.
What Cinema Is And Should Always Be Upon my initial viewing of this charming little film, another foreign film came to mind; Almodovar's "All About My Mother", which most of you should check out, if you haven't already. Mostly "Good Bye, Lenin" works due to it's casting, dry and visual humour, and original ideas.
The visual of Lenin flying away via helicopter is absolute brilliance, but then none of it would work without a decent cast. The actress who plays Daniel Bruhl's mother is not only superlative, but very attractive. A film like this could have easily gone the route of melodrama, but it stays firmly on the line between humour and drama, and thankfully works as both.
Yes, You'll Like It! A bunch of friends (mostly women) were deciding what to watch, and I was not at all interested in some foreign feel-good movie... and I'm glad my friends decided to ignore my objections. I was expecting something like Il Postino (a chick flick); what I saw was a movie I had to buy and add to my library to watch again. It really is that good.
The many rave reviews already describe in great detail the film, the quality and the story line, so I won't go into that; all I have to add is that it's entertaining, touching and has all the makings of a classic film. If you're wondering whether or not you'll like it, trust me: you will.
great plot & music one of my best movies
great place : berlin
beautiful music :(...more info
Beyond the chains of illusion There have been many comments about this film, most positive. I agree with the positives. As a film, it is funny, warm and enjoyable. It is also well done. But there's more.
The people who panned the film because it showed East Germany in a good light missed the point. This is a film about illusions: those of the DDR and its leaders and citizens; those of the mother after her husband leaves and she cannot follow; those of the son to protect his mother; those of the film-maker friend and his involvement in the deception; those of the makers of this film in recreating East Berlin several years before and flying Lenin down the street; those of the daughter dropping out of college to sell burgers; those of the first German cosmonaut now driving a taxi for a living; perhaps even those of us in the West and our illusion of consumption-based happiness and fulfillment.
This is a far deeper look at much more that just what was wrong with East Germany, or a mother-son relationship. It has depths that reward multiple viewings. It forces us to ask about whether we are perceiving reality or whether we are part of a different mass-illusion. If you think it lets the DDR off the hook, watch it again. The film basically accuses the DDR of being a huge illusion foisted on a subject people, a total denial of reality. If you think that the film is saying that the DDR was a good thing, wake up and look at the film more closely.
Enjoyable on many levels and recommended for all sorts of good reasons....more info
deutsche Geschichte Ich war sehr froh, diesen Film bei Amazon.com zu finden. Nicht nur ist die Geschichte historisch interessant, sie ist auch
-und ich als "alter Ossi", der die Wendezeit miterlebt hat, kann es bestaetigen- auf humoristische Weise dargestellt wurden. Leider kann man den Film auf Grund von zu viel nackter Haut (in einer Szene) fuer den Unterricht nicht benutzen. ...more info
Interesting but drawn out When I was about the same age as the main character in this film, I had a couple of East German pen pals and had the chance to visit them in East Germany about a year before the events of this movie. I was very interested in the topic of the movie. I like the portrayal of the different takes. You have the older people who miss some of the stability of their previous life, those who wouldn't necessarily go back but don't like all of the trappings of western society, and the young who adapt to western culture even though it isn't as perfect as it might have seemed. The premise of the story is interesting too. It's funny to see how the son tries to maintain the appearance of the old East Germany even as it slips away. The only thing I didn't like about the film is that by the end, the storyline seems to wander or get a bit old. Still, this is a great movie and something definitely a bit different if you are looking for a good foreign film. ...more info
Unique Time-traveling Tale from Germany People like me who lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) but were a little too young at the time to be paying much attention will like this blast to the past. Much of the wit is summed up in one of the scenes (which is only seen in the deleted scenes) when the lead character's friend mentions his situation is a little like the delicate situation in "Back to the Future" (a big hit that was just reaching the Eastern bloc at the time the movie is set). The tale revolves around a boy who has to keep the past alive for the sake of his mother's health and it illustrates both the excitement of those who experienced the west for the first time and the betrayal (in this case felt by his mother) of those who upheld the former regime. It's a clever look at social change in general and a bit of history that hasn't yet been seen often in film. I loved it....more info
As fine as a dish of Globus peas "Godbye Lenin" was one of the best foreign films released in 2004, which combined a love story and farce against the backdrop of the last days of the German Democratic Republic. The plot is ingenious: to prevent his frail mother, a mid-level loyal appratchika, from suffering a second and fatal heart attack, her son must create a historical "bubble" in her appartment to keep her convinced that the Communist regime is alive and well, and the universe has not changed.
The fantasy world created by her son reflects the actual paper-mache universe that was East Germany. The Wall must stay up; dumpsters must be scoured for old food cans with the right labels, and mediocre laminate furniture recovered. His job is made more difficult as the real world and its billboards inevitably intrude, to which he and a friend respond by taping fake talking-head broadcasts which look like the real dull as bricks productions. I had always suspected that Coca Cola was invented in the GDR and stolen by the West....
Some have unfairly criticised this movie by being too "soft" on the East German regime, and in its sympathetic portrayal of the mother as a loyal adherent to the system. That was not the point of this movie. Waking up on a November 2000 morning to find that Bush, and not Gore, was declared president was significant enough; the millions who saw the Wall collapse and have their entire society change must have been thousands of times more traumatic. Many, many people who were not ideologues still had a stake in the old system, such as university professors, teachers, and factory workers. Their world, like that of the East German astronaut, was turned upside down without any fault of their own. This film succeeds in describing this trauma in a gentle and thoughtful way....more info
"Mother slept through the relentless triumph of capitalism" Viewers who buy the initial premise of Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin! - a tale of a wall-sundered East Berlin family - will probably find lots to like about this movie. But fifteen minutes into it I started to wonder why devoted son Alex (Daniel Br¨¹hl) doesn't just tell his mother (Katrin Sass) that the old German Democratic Republic doesn't exist. Surely she will be able to handle it and it certainly would have solved a lot of problems.
After father defects West, mother goes mentally East as a Young Pioneer leader, a Party activist, and an advocate for better women's underwear. On her way to a political function, she sees Alex at a demonstration and collapses of a heart attack on the eve of the dissolution of the socialist republic. Her coma lasts eight months. Finally, she awakens in the summer of 1990, when capitalism has triumphed and Germany is reunified. Now Alex is selling satellite dishes, and his sister Ariane (Maria Simon) is a Burger King worker.
Her doctor insists that the slightest shock will kill her. So the frantic Alex transforms the apartment his mom shares with him, his sister and her new husband into a relic of the socialist past. He reconstructs everything from brands of canned foods to, as his sister says, "the cr*p we used to wear," scouring flea markets for appropriate props, and decanting new imported food products in the old familiar cans retrieved from the garbage.
An enthusiastic video filmmaker even creates television news programs that present an alternative history of the recent German past. By installing a hidden VCR, Alex broadcasts old news or faked official explanations for the Coca-Cola logo mom spots from her bedroom window. "Mother slept through the relentless triumph of capitalism," Alex recalls. But he seems so reluctant to tell her the truth - partly because he loves her so dearly, but also because he's possibly reluctant to let the old socialist ways go.
Then one day, the duped mother escapes the flat and steps into a world of Coca-Cola, Burger King, and used car dealerships. A few moments later, she encounters a giant Lenin statue trailing from a helicopter en route to history's graveyard. In the movie's most poetic touch, the Communist prophet symbolically gestures, just to her. Soon after, she faints and her illness steadily worsens, but her faith in, and devotion to the socialist system never waivers.
Goodbye Lenin will richly award locals with sly in-jokes and a wonderfully comical and multi-dimensional performance by Br¨¹hl. Non-Germans will certainly get the essence of the humor but may find the movie rather repetitive, tedious, and also somewhat unrealistic. Its structure also works against its dramatic values as the middle section gets stretched almost beyond endurance, while the third act's portrayal of a family's attempts to come to terms with life in the West and their own reunification - the story's emotional core - feels a bit rushed.
But the movie does work well as a kind of wistful nostalgia piece. Cleverly inserting documentary footage of the collapsed wall and the vast social revolution that took place, the movie shows that Communism itself was a fake fa?ade, which makes Alex's imaginary motherland all the more a simulation of a simulation. There's an overwhelming haunting quality to his bittersweet and whimsical realization that "the DDR I created for her became the one I would have wished for." Mike Leonard may 05
nostalgia as a kid growing up in a socialist country we were taught that this was the ideal way of life, that this is how it is suposed to be. we were taught that the west was something to be mistrusted, but we all secretly wanted to be part of it. when i saw the east german cartoons, my eyes flooded with tears. they were simple, shabily done and had one message, the propoganda of socialism/commnism. what a stark difference it was when i saw disney cartoons, the technology was so much more complex, the plot was more comlex, so much far ahead than the cartoon celebrating Gagarin. to those who havent had the chance to live in a "COMMIE" country thinks it was all about oppression, but somehow in all that imposed suffering there seemed to be a feeling of security, of calm. when the berlin wall came down, and soon after the entire eastern bloc people were (are in some areas) forced to deal with the confusion, with the final realization that the west has finally come. i think that this movie illustrates this point very well. even though the satelite tv has come in and western food has now invaded the formerly barren shelves of markets there still lies and underlying feeling of regret of having let the feeling of peace go. ...more info
How to fool your mother when your country has gone Many on both sides of the Berlin Wall were only too ready to embrace change in 1989 whereas one person missed it all because of being in a coma - and when that person is a committed socialist with a total belief in the socialist ideals and dogmas of the state, what does one do? Tell her just like that? Or else pretend that nothing had happened? Such is the unusual dilemma facing young Alex Kerner (Daniel Br¨¹hl), whose mother Christiane (Katrin Sass), as seen in (suitably grainy) family footage, immersed herself in anything to do with the Communist Party and its activities, including the Young Pioneers (the socialist equivalent of Scouts and Guides) shortly after her husband had fled to the West at a time when the German "Democratic" Republic (GDR) was rapt in the first flight of a citizen, Sigmund J?hn, into space on board the then-extant Soviet space station, Mir.
On the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GDR, Alex joins many citizens calling out "Keine Gewalt!" ("No violence!"), as they demonstrate peacefully for change in their country. Christiane, meanwhile, is on her way to a party meeting, but gets caught up in the demo and witnesses her son being dragged away by the "Volkspolizei" (GDR police). Son's and mother's eyes meet momentarily, and she collapses in the street. Alex wants to help her, but he is unceremoniously dragged on board a truck and beaten as he and others are taken to the local jail. Unexpectedly, he is released without charge as the authorities apparently know who his mother is. He dashes off to the hospital, where he finds her with all manner of tubes connected to her body. He also discovers later that a girl he met at the demo just happens to be a nurse called Lara (Chulpan Khamatova) with whom he eventually falls in love.
Events move fast, and the Wall comes down the month after Alex's mother had slipped into her coma. Change is so rapid that Alex, whose love for his mother is as unswerving as hers is for the socialist homeland, fears that she may even die from the shock of realizing that her beloved socialist homeland has been replaced by a capitalist one. With the need for East Germans and West Germans to co-operate, Alex joins a satellite TV company from the western side and becomes part of an East-West team with Denis (Florian Lukas). It turns out that Denis is a wizard at making movies, so he hits upon the idea of fooling his mother with fake TV programmes (connected to hidden video recorders) that convey the idea that his mother's beloved socialist homeland was still very much alive.
They make arrangements to ensure that everything is as normal as possible, including redecorating an entire room to look exactly like her mother's old bedroom and finding old bottles, glass jars and tins with familiar food labels on it - pickles from Holland won't do, so Alex must look in the most unlikely places for them! As she comes "home" after eight months in a coma, everything really does seem to be as normal - so long as she never leaves the bedroom. Aspects of "old" GDR life are seen as Alex persuades young and old, including disillusioned old Party activist Herr Ganske (J¨¹rgen Holtz), to celebrate his mother's birthday by singing patriotic socialist songs about the homeland, though the game is almost given away by the untimely unfurling over a tall neighbouring apartment block wall ... of a Coca-Cola ad! Alex and Denis quickly dream up a way to provide a plausible explanation for the presence of this capitalist drink - a faked documentary that convinces Christiane that Coca-Cola actually came from the East!
Later on, while Alex sleeps in the apartment, Christiane slips out of bed and into a world which has, indeed, changed, and she stares incredulously at the sight of West German Mercedes and Audi cars parked in the street, a billboard advertising IKEA furniture and at a statue (without legs) of Lenin, right arm outstretched, being carried under a helicopter, presumably to be scrapped, figuratively symbolizing the impending death of Communist rule in the GDR. The statue, in a somewhat bizarre way, appears to beckon to this disbelieving socialist stalwart as the helicopter flies past her. A shocked Alex and his sister Ariane (Maria Simon) manage to hustle their wayward mother back to bed, but it is clear that the game has to end at some point.
Just as Alex is about to reveal the deliberate deception during a family outing to the countryside, however, Christiane, in turn, makes a startling confession as to what really happened to her husband Robert (Burghart Klaussner) - and the alternative choice that she could have made for herself and her family, only for her to get cold feet and turn it down. So, now the shoe was proverbially on the other foot, as she begged forgiveness from her family from having lied to them all this time, unaware of the lies that Alex and company had been telling her.
Having suffered yet another timely heart attack, she is taken to hospital again where, thanks to Denis, the deception ends with one last fake TV programme, which, given it does include genuine news archive footage of the momentous events surrounding the fall of the Wall, apparently convinces Christiane that many West Germans had found life on the western side too materialistic and shallow for their liking and seemed ready to embrace the socialist ideal, conveying the idea that there was more to life than just buying things. Christiane seems to be so happy, and she eventually dies just three days after the reunification of West and East Germany. Alex is both sad at his mother's death, but happy that she died happy, still apparently convinced that the socialist dream was intact even now. However, what Alex does not know was that she had, in fact, found out about the deception - through Lara, of all people. In a complete reversal of roles, she, in effect, becomes the deceiver rather than the deceived by deceiving her son into thinking that she had not known anything, yet she realises that he had done what he did to protect her, so she does this to "protect" him from his own "reality".
Along with Bernd Lichtenberg, who wrote the screenplay, Wolfgang Becker co-wrote and directed this German movie, made by X Filme Creative Pool, the same company that made "Run Lola Run" (see my review), but distributed by Warner Bros for a worldwide audience. In total contrast to Winfried Bonengel's "F¨¹hrer Ex" (see my review), this movie almost romanticizes what life was like in the socialist GDR, thus perhaps adding to the idea that socialism, for people like Christiane, really was a perfect dream for ordinary people - and, indeed, Alex helped to perpetuate that dream, even if the brutal realities of Communist life in the GDR go no further in this movie than the brief scene of rows of detainees with hands behind their heads in the prison itself before he is released.
A parallel could be drawn between this movie and "F¨¹hrer Ex": Tommy and Heiko from "F¨¹hrer Ex" embrace neo-Nazism after their brutal treatment in jail whereas, before, they had never harboured such political ideology. Christiane, in this movie, had never embraced the socialist ideal before the Stasi (the GDR secret police) came looking for her absent husband. It seems that she had adopted this ideological stance as a kind of "mask", as if trying to hoodwink people (and, ultimately, herself) into thinking that she had fully embraced socialism and that her husband had fled because he had the "wrong" attitude. However, it seemed that it had gone so far over a period of over a decade that she really did believe in the ideal, thus indicating that one might eventually believe an ideal if it suits their situation where circumstances warrant.
Terrific concept, wonderful movie "Good Bye, Lenin!", a German film from 2003, is marvelously creative and lots of fun. The premise itself makes the film so intriguing...a woman long committed to the Socialist state of East Germany, falls into a coma just before the Berlin Wall comes down and upon regaining consciousness eight months later is protected by her family (largely her son) with regard to the changes that have occurred. The high jinks that surround her re-emergence are worth every minute of the movie.
Daniel Bruhl, who plays Alex, the son, is the chief "overseer" of his mother, played by Katrin Sass. Bruhl steals just about every scene in the film as he remains on edge should Mutter discover that democracy has come to Berlin. Slowly she begins to question the changes and in one scene, Mutter wanders outside of her apartment, undetected by Alex, to see for herself those unbelievable capitalist changes that have occurred. Recaptured by Alex and his sister, Alex then plots, with the help of his video-making friend, to revamp the story to one that the East German government has let in thousands of West Germans who want to be rid of western goods and ideas. If there were ever shades of the 1960's TV series, "Mission: Impossible", this film has them.
"Good Bye, Lenin!" is a brilliant piece of work...one that is amusing as much as it is implausible. I highly recommend it for its story line and an endearing performance delivered by young Daniel Bruhl....more info
A Wonderful German Movie About a Serious Topic In rhis German comedy movie, you'll find everything you expect in a very good film. You see tonnes of visual jokes, a mass of verbal jokes and a lot of unbelievable good created stuff.
Fo me, the R Rating is not necessary, because there are no Action or Nudity scenes in this movie. In Germany it is rated 6 and up....more info