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Good Bye Lenin (2003)

Die DDR lebt weiter -- auf 79 qm!

Original Title : Good bye, Lenin!
Director : Wolfgang Becker
Writer : Wolfgang Becker
Bernd Lichtenberg
Genre : Comedy
Drama
Country : Germany
Language : German
Producer : Stefan Arndt
Music : Yann Tiersen
Photography : Martin Kukula
MPAA Rating : Rated R for brief language and sexuality.
IMDB ID : 0301357
Official site : http://www.german-cinema.de/archive/film_view.php?film_id=939
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poster for "Good Bye Lenin" by Wolfgang Becker (2003)
Good Bye Lenin (2003) - Wolfgang Becker
 

Starring

Daniel Brühl Alexander Kerner
Katrin Saß Christiane Kerner (mother
Maria Simon Ariane Kerner
Chulpan Khamatova Lara
Florian Lukas Denis
Alexander Beyer Rainer
Burghart Klaußner Robert Kerner (father
Michael Gwisdek Direktor Klapprath
Jürgen Holtz .... Ganske) 
Jelena Kratz Ariane (age 13
Christine Schorn Frau Schäfer
Ernst-Georg Schwill Taxifahrer
Andreas Thieck News speaker (voice
Jürgen Vogel Das Küken
Stefan Walz Sigmund Jähn
Mennan Yapo Flea Market Salesman
Willy Brandt Himself (uncredited
Lothar de Maizière Himself (uncredited
Hans-Dietrich Genscher Himself (uncredited
Mikhail Gorbachev Himself (uncredited
Raisa Gorbachev Herself (uncredited
Erich Honecker Himself (uncredited
Sigmund Jahn Himself (uncredited
Helmut Kohl Himself (uncredited
Egon Krenz Himself (uncredited
Walter Momper Himself (uncredited
Rudi Völler Himself (uncredited
 

Plot

East Germany, the year 1989: A young man protests against the regime. His mother watches the police arresting him and suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. Some months later, the GDR does not exist anymore and the mother awakes. Since she has to avoid every excitement, the son tries to set up the GDR again for her in their flat. But the world has changed a lot...
 

Comments

A treat for both the heart and mind. For those of us who occasionally like to watch films that prioritise artistic aspiration over profit, the summer months can be troublesome. However, there are two basic responses such a person can make to a season dominated by blockbusters and monolithic franchise sequels. The defeatist will resign to the fate that the next three months are going to provide nothing but vacuous attempts to make money. The more astute moviegoer will be aware that, during a heavily commercialised market, some distributors will often risk releasing an excellent independent and/or foreign movie, hoping to carve out a niche as the ‘,artistic alternative' for those fed up with commercial tripe. Wolfgang Becker's ‘,Good Bye Lenin' is a perfect example of rewards on offer if you decide on the later. How's this for a premise? Set in 1989, East Berlin, Christiane Kerner (Katrin Sass), a single mother and staunch supporter of the GDR, sees her son Alex (Daniel Bruhl) taking part in a demonstration demanding the removal of the Berlin Wall, suffers a heart attack and slips into a coma for 8 months. When she unexpectedly awakes, she has missed the fall of the Wall, the collapse of the GDR and the introduction of capitalism. Told by doctors that another shock could prove fatal, Alex decides he has to take her home and convince her that nothing has happened. This inspired concept leads to some great comic moments, as the ever resourceful and endearingly determined Alex resorts to all kinds of measures to maintain the illusion. He buys imported foods from supermarkets and then rakes in the garbage for old GDR produced jars and packaging to put them in. He encourages his mother's old friends (who are only too happy to pretend the GDR is alive and well) to visit and recite old songs. He even hires the services of a work mate (who has hilarious Kubrickian ambitions) to produce videos of GDR news broadcasts so his mother can watch television. However, to describe Good Bye Lenin as a screwball comedy is insufficient and perhaps even inaccurate. The film is better described as a blend of domestic drama and political satire. Although Alex protested for the fall of the Wall, he denies the exciting developments going around him in order to protect the health of someone he loves. As well as being incredibly touching this also allows room for political comment. In an interesting break from convention, it is not the Wall's presence, but its absence that is the problem for Alex. To maintain the illusion that it still exists, the young modernist has to ironically act like the state he protested against, regulating the media and forcing people to conform to an image against their will. Good Bye Lenin is also a film about desperately clinging on to fading memories. Alex retaining a sense of the GDR is also to try and recapture a time when his mother was a bold, determined and vibrant woman, not the frail, dying woman he is caring for. The symbolism can also work in reverse. In trying to convince his mother that the GDR exists (despite the increasing presence of western artefacts) Alex spins a lie that says the GDR is offering political asylum to those disillusioned with capitalism. In doing this, Alex possibly represent the desire of East Germans to have influence in the process of unification. History tells us, of course, that this was not really the case. This is not to say I consider Becker's film to be anti-capitalist. On the whole, I think it celebrates German unification, but its testament to its depth that such a simple story also considers those people who were perhaps uneasy with the rapidity of great change. ‘,Good Bye Lenin' is a cracking film, complete with beautiful images and an emotional and intellectual depth that is the very antithesis of most of the other films that make up the summer schedules. A treat for both the mind and the heart, if modern German cinema is this good, I want far more of it.
 
poster for "Good Bye Lenin"
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Good Bye Lenin (2003) - Wolfgang Becker
poster for "Good Bye Lenin"
400 x 570
Good Bye Lenin (2003) - Wolfgang Becker
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