Welcome! Log in or Register

Good Bye Lenin! (DVD)

  • image
£2.80 Best Offer by: amazon.co.uk marketplace See more offers
10 Reviews

Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2003 / Director: Wolfgang Becker (II) / Actors: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß ... / Features of the DVD: PAL

  • Sort by:

    * Prices may differ from that shown

  • Write a review >
    How do you rate the product overall? Rate it out of five by clicking on one of the hearts.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages? Use up to 10 bullet points.
    Write your reviews in your own words. 250 to 500 words
    Number of words:
    Write a concise and readable conclusion. The conclusion is also the title of the review.
    Number of words:
    Write your email adress here Write your email adress

    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    10 Reviews
    Sort by:
    • More +
      28.09.2010 20:19
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      7 Comments

      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      An interesting take on life in East Germany in 1989.

      Film's Title - Good Bye Lenin! Year of Release - 2003 Director - Wolfgang Becker Stars of the Film - Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Maria Simon MPAA rating - R (US), UK rating - 15 I really wanted to watch this film after reading reviews about it and finding out it was set in East Berlin in 1989. Why? Because I spent three weeks in the old East Germany in 1989, as part of a Friendship group that went there from my University. I absolutely loved it and have many happy memories of my time in Eastern Europe, just a few months before the Wall came down. Good Bye Lenin! begins before the reunification. Christiane Kerner (played by Katrin Saß) is a single mother, bringing up her two children - Alex (Daniel Brühl) and Ariane (Maria Simon) - in a small flat in East Berlin. She is a keen member of the Socialist Party and enthusiastically helps the young Pioneer movement. But one day, she has a heart attack on the street and ends up in hospital. She stays in a coma for eight months and during this time, the Berlin Wall comes down and the barriers between East and West Germany cease to exist. Free movement between the two areas leads to a whole new world with capitalism encroaching on the East and more West Germans moving in. Alex and Ariane happily embrace the new way of living until their mother wakes from her coma. They are warned a second heart attack will kill her, so they must protect her from any shocks. But how can they hide the biggest shock of all from her - that the GDR has ceased to exist? It is hard to define the genre of this film. It is safe to call it a drama, but the synopsis gives the impression it may be slightly comedic or even farcical, but overall, it is quite serious in tone and I often found it rather sad and melancholic. It is unlike any other film I can recall seeing, though it most resembles a kind of German Mike Leigh film, if I was pushed. You soon become engrossed in the characters' lives and wonder what will happen to them. You sympathise with each one and wonder how you would react in that situation. Alex is the star role here and Daniel Brühl is very convincing as the devoted son who tries his hardest to keep the façade going. Maria Simon is also very good as his sister Ariane, but the cast as a whole are wonderful. I was especially impressed with Florian Lukas as Denis, who provides the nearest we get to comic relief with a great character. He stole my attention each time he appeared on screen. I loved the setting of East Berlin and recognised Alexanderplatz and some of the areas I had visited over twenty years ago. I really enjoyed seeing the old 1980s GDR fashions, haircuts and the way the interiors of the flats were designed. I never got to visit an East German family apartment, but I had lots of East German penpals and the way they described their lives agreed with the way this film realised everything. It has a kind of 'olde worlde' charm about it from being set in this era. The film says a lot about culture too and how things we take for granted can be changed so quickly. Good Bye Lenin! shows how quickly the East Germans became used to capitalism and travelling to the West, how Burger King and Coca-Cola were soon adopted and how people's priorities changed. It also demonstrates how the young adapted much better than the older East Germans. There are some really poignant scenes in the movie where the older people seem completely lost without the structure and the rules that had always been there before. While the reunification of the two parts of Germany was seen as a symbol of freedom, the lack of the GDR's unique brand of "socialism" actually imprisoned some people, who couldn't cope with the new way of life. Although featuring fictional characters, the film does show how the breaking down of the Berlin Wall wasn't necessarily a good thing for everyone. It is quite a slow film in some respects. It trots along at a fairly stable pace throughout and never becomes edge-of-the-seat exciting. It isn't an action movie though by any means. I enjoyed it overall, but at almost two hours, it did feel slightly too long at times. While I am pleased I watched it, there was something about Good Bye Lenin! which disappointed me and I'm not quite sure what it was. Somehow it seemed slightly unfulfilling, like I wished it was more - but more what? I don't know. I loved the characters, the ending was fitting, the story was interesting - yet it lacked ... something. Maybe it was a sparkle, a bit of magic. Will it be a film I remember fondly forever? Probably not. There are some wonderful moments in the movie and some great little touches that gladden the heart. Who could forget Denis filming new news reports from the now defunct GDR or that amazing image of Lenin's bust being carried off into the distance, in the same way his philosophy drifted away? It is a very clever film and one which has had a lot of thought put into it. It is interesting and entertaining and rather worthy too. Yet I can't see it being one I want to watch over and over, nor one I insist my friends and family buy or hire. In fact, I think I enjoyed it as much as I did mainly because I could connect with the setting. If you haven't been to East Germany in 1989 (and I doubt many of us have), then you may not enjoy it as much as I did. Would I recommend it? Yes. But not with a jumping up and down kind of enthusiasm, but more of a considered, measured approach - a quiet nod in the back of the room, that kind of thing. The DVD only costs £3.97 from Amazon UK at the moment and for that money, I think it's worth watching - but I'm pleased I didn't pay £10 for it.

      Comments

      Login or register to add comments
      • More +
        06.09.2010 14:58
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        11 Comments

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        A very good comedy

        East Berlin; 1989 and this part of Germany is celebrating its forty years of socialist rule. As Bob Dylan once said 'Times They Are A Changing,' and East Germany is about to have a big political and cultural shake up. Christiane Kerner (Katrin Sass), a communist who is faithful to the regime is on her way to a special state ceremony when she sees her boy Alex (Daniel Bruhl), set to by the police. The stress of this incident causes her to have a heart attack, crashing to the floor and ending up in a comatose state. Christiane does pull through but it takes eight months and in that time East Berlin has undergone some important and quite dramatic changes. The Berlin Wall has come down and western culture is already beginning to control the city. The doctors have told Christiane that her health is still unstable and any changes or excitement could be detrimental to her well-being. Her son, Alex believes that all the changes will be too much for his mother to cope with having been a socialist all of her life, so he decides to recreate the old Germany in her bedroom. To make sure that this charade of recreating East Berlin is successful he asks his sister and work colleague to help him. Together they go to ridiculous lengths to make his mother believe that nothing has changed since she was carried off to hospital. It is hilarious to watch how they stage fake events including false TV news reports, to make sure that his mother only sees her communist world. However, western culture starts to really take hold of the city and it starts to become very difficult for Alex to protect his mother and keep up the charade. His mother suddenly takes a walk outside her apartment and she becomes very disturbed by the sudden commercialism of her city. Alex reverses the situation as he tries to explain that western Berlin has fallen and the east is offering a sanctuary for the westerners who are escaping from the new regime. Like a spider weaving a web that is precise and full of intricate detail Alex suddenly realises that the truth is something very abstract. He also realises that over the years his mother has hidden many a secret from him for exactly the same reasons he is not telling her the exact truth. Alex's love for his mother is very real and because he lost his Dad, this relationship means more to him than owning up. Unfortunately, his enthusiastic diligence is wrecking his relationship with his sister and his girlfriend, Lara (Chulpan Khamatova). They both think he should come clean and tell his mother the truth. Added to this he also feels stressed out because he is living in two worlds; the old communist world he has recreated and the new world that is developing fast every day. Plus he is about to change from a boy into a man in a new era that is exciting yet confusing and disorderly. Katrin Sass who plays Alex's mother is very good and a joy to watch on screen. Although we are led to believe that she accepts and understands Alex's explanation regarding the reunification we are never really sure just how much of his scheme she sussed out. By the end of the film I came to the conclusion that perhaps Christiane wasn't such a follower of socialism as I had originally thought. I thought her so called beliefs were a kind of soothing ointment to heal the wounds caused by her husband leaving. In the beginning Alex's sister welcomed the changes and was quick to accept western civilization but gradually you can see that she is not a hundred per cent happy with the move forward and she is worried where it will take her. As a westerner it is very easy to think why on earth did Alex go to such trouble to keep alive Christiane's beliefs in a political system that was defective. What you have to remember is that although life under the old regime was restrictive it was also familiar and that young people like Alex probably did welcome the changes but I think they just happened so quickly that he along with lots of others found it difficult to adjust initially. The film's director Wolfgang Becker has done a good job on the film and the script co-written by Becker and Bern Lichtenberg is at times very amusing. I love the inserted sarcasm and the shot of the giant bust of Lenin being taken away by helicopter when Christiane walks out of the apartment is one of the best shots in the film; totally surreal. To add historical authenticity to the film the director has added footage from home-made films taken in the 80s. I think this film from Germany certainly deserved all the awards it received in 2003. Although, parts of the film are unbelievable at the same time I still think the film is successful mainly because it is a good comedy, it shows us just what an upheaval these political changes made in the lives of ordinary people living in east Berlin at the time and takes a sensitive, in-depth look at how people who love each other will go to drastic measures to protect a very important relationship. I saw this film at a small independent cinema here in Warsaw, a new gem of a place I have found that shows foreign films, older films and music films. It was such a pleasure to sit down and watch something that wasn't an inane blockbuster. I really liked Good Bye, Lenin! And it was good to see shots of Berlin on the screen. Highly Recommended.

        Comments

        Login or register to add comments
          More Comments
        • More +
          17.02.2010 13:35
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          2 Comments

          Advantages

          Disadvantages

          German film at its best.

          Being fluent in German and having lived there for a year, I take pleasure in watching German films, not just for the language but revising the culture. I do enjoy it when top German films, such as Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) and Downfall become released over here as at least I can share my love of German films with my friends and family. However I must admit to being puzzled that this film was given a UK release. Not because it isn't good or funny, as it is both, but because the focus of the comedy is something very few British people will understand. Where as Run Lola Run has an understandable storyline that isn't definably German, and Downfall focuses on an event which everyone knows of, Goodbye Lenin focus on the fall of the DDR and the events after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The main crux of the story is focused around a family. Christiane's husband leaves his wife and family to move to West Berlin. Alex and his mother are left to pick up the pieces and his mother throws herself into working with the Communist Party to help ease her pain. As events in the East start happening, Christiane suffers a heart attack after seeing Alex caught in a demonstration. Although allowed to return home from the hospital, Alex is warned that she mustn't receive any shocks at all. Ordinarily that wouldn't be a problem but with the fall of the Berlin wall and the sudden mixing of East and West culture, it becomes harder than you would have thought. And just when he thinks everything is going well, something flies past his window..... I personally loved this film and really enjoyed all the little touches. But unless you know about the history of Berlin and the differences between the East and the West, I don't know if everyone would understand all of the comedy.

          Comments

          Login or register to add comments
          • More +
            08.12.2009 19:32
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            1 Comment

            Advantages

            Disadvantages

            A fine balance of politics and family...

            note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room The film opens in late 1989, just before the Berlin Wall fell and the German unification began, with Alex Kerner (Daniel Brühl) being the protagonist. He lives with his mother, Christiane (Katrin Sass), who suffers a heart attack and slips into a coma after seeing her son being arrested for demonstrating against the segeregation. She was a virulent supporter of the Socialist cause, and so when the Berlin wall falls down, and Germany becomes a Capitalist state, Alex is told that he cannot let his mother know about the changes in Germany, or it will very likely cause her to suffer another heart attack from which this time she will not recover. Thus, a grand rouse begins, with Alex trying to keep his mother in the dark about the changes at all costs. This has a seemingly ridiculous premise but it actually works very well and is incredibly heartfelt. Bruhl proves once again that he is a star waiting to breakout, and his role in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds might help that. Uncommonly, this is a film that defies any sort of political statement and its best is simply a sympathetic and moving look at a loving bond. Good Bye Lenin! is an incredibly heartfelt and touching film that has plenty to say about the political climate of Germany at the time, but the more compelling element is ultimately about a son's love for his mother, and in that regard it really delivers. If you have a heart you can't help but feel something when the end credits roll, and although this is a foreign film, its message about family is synonymous across all language.

            Comments

            Login or register to add comments
            • More +
              16.06.2009 00:59
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              1 Comment

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Great film - German cinema at its best!

              Good bye Lenin was a film that i did not expect to blow me away. First of all, subtitled, the thought of watching a subtitled film made me cringe. However, i was wrong and this film opened my eyes to european subtitled films. It revolves around a son trying to hide his mother, who has just come out of a coma, from the realties of changing germany and the fall of the Berlin wall in horror that she will return to her previous state. In order for that to happen a number of changes are made, for example, the TV is swapped to a older version and everything is set up in the home to how it originally was. This film in its unique and magnificant and paves a satirical comedy that is cynical but inspired by changing times and also indicates the interaction and impact of change in society. IF you are learning german, watch it. If you are studying history, watch it. If you want to be entertained, watch it. Or if you are just intrigued...yep you got it, watch it. It may open your eyes to cinematic change!!

              Comments

              Login or register to add comments
              • More +
                26.04.2008 00:22
                2 Comments

                Advantages

                Disadvantages

                Very good foreign language film

                I actually had this reccomended to me by a friend. I'm learning German, and looking for German films I can watch with the English subtitles on, and she said I would enjoy this. As it turns out, the German in this film is a touch too fast for my novice skills and I ended up going on subtitles alone. However, the film was good enough that I didn't actually care. It's a story set in Germany, centring around the fall of the Berlin Wall. There is a small family - before the Wall falls the mother has a heart attack and goes into a coma. This lasts years, through the wall falling, through capitalism finally being allowed in, through her son and daughter's lives changing. And then she wakes up, and the doctors warn them that any shocks could bring about another heart attack - this time fatal. And so the great deception begins, trying to hide that anything has changed. It's a grim sort of comedy, and well-worth reading subtitles in order to understand. Don't be put off by the fact it's not in English.

                Comments

                Login or register to add comments
                • More +
                  09.09.2005 11:16
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  11 Comments

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  A well made comedy with more serious undertones if you wish to see them

                  It’s been a while since modern German cinema has produced movies that receive any kind of critical recognition on the world stage and possibly for good reason. Recent classics such as Wings of Desire, Das Boot, The Tin Drum, Christiane F and many of Herzog’s better films all date from the 70’s and 80’s although there were some English language German production the 90’s Smoke and Blue in the Face that are worthy of a mention. Considering all this it is refreshing to see a German film getting noticed at last by a wider audience and deservedly so. THE STORY The film is set in 1989 East Berlin just months before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the communist state. Alex is opposed to the regime and is arrested for his actions; his mother a die-hard socialist has a heart attack from the shock and falls into a coma. She finally awakens a few months later when the socialist state she supported is no more. Alex and his sister are under doctor's orders not to excite their mother so anxious not to precipitate another attack they decide to trick her into thinking things are as they were. Obviously this becomes increasingly difficult leading to evermore complicated and intricate deceptions and many amusing consequences. THE CAST, PERFORMANCES AND OPINION Daniel Brühl .... Alex Kathrin Sass.... Mother Chulpan Khamatova .... Lara Maria Simon .... Ariane Kerner Florian Lukas .... Denis Alexander Beyer .... Rainer Burghart Klaußner .... Alex Vater Directed by Wolfgang Becker, written by Wolfgang Becker and Bernd Lichtenberg. This film was of special interest to me since I visited Berlin in the summer of 1989 the time in which the film is set. The one thing I remember of the period is the drastic difference between the east and the West of the city. Taking the obligatory day trip in to communist run East Berlin and seeing the rows of identical drab cars and the shops with empty windows being flanked by an appointed guide at all times and being searched both going in and coming out passing through the infamous Checkpoint Charlie it seemed inconceivable to me that the political system was going to completely break down in a matter of years let alone months . So the premise of the film was completely believable and to bring a more serious note to the review in retrospect the saddest thing I saw on my trip was a memorial (a simple wooden cross) on the western side of the wall in memory of a man that had been killed trying to escape to the West at the beginning of 1989…if he’d waited a few months longer he would’ve been able to freely walk across the border… The film is ostensibly a comedy drama but the clever plot device of the mother’s coma and the subsequent deceptions allows the director to explore and contrast the changing attitudes and social practicalities that followed the changes that took place all so quickly in Berlin after the fall of communism. This film essentially plays with a single clever and interesting idea, and even though there is little more to the plot than this initial premise it cleverly built upon much in the same way as occurs in a classic farce so that interest is sustained throughout. Undeniably this is a funny film but there are many different elements to the story that make it also good drama and that produces an emotional impact in the audience. There is also as a certain amount of political message hidden away in the plot. The way Alex in his reconstruction of communist Berlin tries to produce a brand of socialism that he as a sceptic can accept goes some way to making the point that the fall of the Berlin wall was not a victory of capitalism over socialism but a more complicated shift in the political landscape where socialist principles could a still have a part to play. Of course the film being made in 2002 has the luxury of hindsight and can produce a more measured response to the fall of communism and the eventual re-unification of Germany that was possible in the excitement of the time. The performances by the main actors in the cast are great, of special note is Daniel Brühl who is a revelation and should be ensured of a good career in films. Kathrin Sass is also convincing as the slightly confused mother who gradually become more aware of her situation and the sometimes strained interaction between her an Alex is the pivotal dramatic element of the film. Another aspect of the film to mention is that it is a period piece having been made in 2002 but set in the late 80’s even for a such a recent period in history (even more so maybe since most viewers will remember the period well) care has to be take with the visual accuracy of the movie. In this ‘Good bye Lenin!’ was totally convincing. The director cleverly used actual newscast of the period both to add credibility to the setting and to emphasise the clear differences between the actual state of the society in which the characters live and the idealised version that Alex is slowly constructing for his mother. In short ‘Good bye Lenin!’ is an accessible funny intelligent comedy with a dash of romance well acted and well made, but it also manages to at times transcend this limited brief to delivers some subtle and yet powerful messages about the nature of control in society and the way we view the too easy distinctions made between left and right in the political world. I suppose in a way the fall of the Berlin wall and communism in eastern Europe was a prelude to western society in general to re-evaluate these notions of political spectrum and forced liberals to think about a more progressive answer to capitalism once socialism in the view of many had been seen to ‘fail’. In a way Alex’s fictitious view of society presented to his mother is an attempt to do this and to find common ground between them. But don’t worry the film can be enjoyed without an in depth political analysis! THE DVD Judging from the list of special features it would seem that there isn’t much to see but unlike the many bloated ‘special DVD editions’ these days the special features on this DVD are more about quality than quantity. The technical side of the DVD is fine; we have good picture and sound quality- Widescreen1.85.1 Anamorphic transfer with Dolby 5.1 sound or Dolby 2.0 sound both with the German soundtrack. The main subtitles are English and are for the most part unobtrusive and legible and to my mind at least preferable to any dubbing of the actor’s voices. The interactive menu and scene selection are clearly presented and easy to navigate with the sectorisation of the DVD adequate enough for you to reasonably skip through bite sized sections of the film. The extras include a promotional trailer, which might not be of much use to a majority of viewers but I always find interesting to see how the film previewed actually compares with the actual product, the making and editing of the trailer is a minor art form in itself. The real nugget in the DVD package is the cast and director commentary option (again with English subtitles), which is both laid back and informative. We hear the main cast members Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Sass, and Alexander Beyer speaking along with director Wolfgang Becker about the making of the film specific scenes and some technical aspects of the editing. This is all done in a very accessible way and with a tone that will not put off casual film fans rather than simply entertain the film buffs. A few deleted scenes are included that for once are helpful to our understanding of the film and add to the interest in the filmmaker’s methods. In this director of another recent German film 'Run Lola Run', Tom Tykwer discuss technical aspects of filmmaking and producing, which is both insightful and entertaining. The final inclusion is a featurette illustrating the visual and special effect used in the film which may have passed many viewers by, however once explained it does provide a further insight in to the filmmaking process. Overall the DVD package although not crammed with features complements the film well and is worth having. *Certificate 15-Duration 1 hour and 56 minutes You can buy Good Bye Lenin from Play.com for our price: £7.99 Delivered Highly recommended! Thanks for reading and rating this review. © Mauri 2005

                  Comments

                  Login or register to add comments
                    More Comments
                  • More +
                    13.08.2004 20:12
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)
                    5 Comments

                    Advantages

                    Disadvantages

                    “Goodbye Lenin” has won several awards – Best European film and Best Actor at the European film Awards, and was nominated for both the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. Director Wolfgang Becker’s subject matter is East Berlin at the end of the eighties, as the Berlin Wall comes down and ‘freedom’ (and probably most likely) consumerism beckon for the East Germans. Central to the story is the Kerner family. Christiane (played by Katrin Saa) is a committed socialist, a staunch supporter of the Socialist regime, and an activist, in a way, although this is mostly in the form of letter-writing when she wants to complain about her neighbours. She collapses in the street as her son, Alex (played by Daniel Bruhl) gets dragged off in a van during a peaceful protest that goes wrong and turns violent. All of this happens just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and she is in a coma for 8 months, so she missed it all. Alex decides no to tell her, and to pretend that things are still the same as they always were in East Germany. The reason for this is that the shock could kill her, or so he reasons with everyone else – and that is certainly his motive – he dearly wants what is best for his mother. He can only keep up the pretence as long as she is confined to her bedroom. As you can imagine, even this isn’t easy to achieve – there’s the small matter of spotting her seeing or hearing any TV or radio - but that’s where a lot of the comedy of the film comes in. Things get even more difficult... Of course. It is a comedy, first and foremost. One of the funny scenes which works well is where the family are looking for Spreewald pickles, to satisfy their mother’s love for them – but they are no longer made under the new regime – so they have to at least find some old jars, to refill with another pickle – all to fool her in thinking life is normal. Also, Alex has to bribe some children to sing old communist songs at her bedside, pretending they are there because they are former pupils of his mother. Some serious themes are definitely touched upon – it shows how the people were affected in their day to day lives by the changes, and not only in ways which were for the good. For instance, the value of Deutschmarks plummeted, and the people got cheated by the banks. Maria Simon plays Ariane – Alex’s sister. Chulpan Khamatova plays Lara, the nurse Alex meets when he visits his mother in hospital. The direction does seem a little out of date, somehow, but in a way that’s entirely in keeping with the subject matter of the movie. It’s slightly on the long side at 122 minutes Cert 15 The video is not listed on amazon.co.uk, so appears to be unavailable. DVD is £16.99

                    Comments

                    Login or register to add comments
                    • More +
                      12.12.2003 01:41
                      Very helpful
                      (Rating)
                      24 Comments

                      Advantages

                      Disadvantages

                      a German blockbuster

                      When you think about countries producing blockbusters Germany doesn´t come to mind. Occasionally good films are made, but not many capture the attention of foreign audiences. And then ´Good Bye, Lenin´ comes along, a small, low-budget film in which no alien creatures threaten the life on the planet, no Germanic terminator superstar saves the universe and not only the Germans are enthusiastic. Up to now more than 6.3 million Germans have seen the film making it the German film with the best start ever, it has been sold to 65 countries, already more than 1 million foreigners have seen it. It has swept up the ´Lola´, the German Oscar, three actors have won a Bambi, it was awarded the best European film of the year and will represent Germany in Hollywood in 2004 in the Oscar competition for the best foreign film. Foreigners see a wonderful film which is rightly praised to the skies, but Germans see much more in it, first I´d like to present the film you can see and then tell you what makes it so special for us. The plot is simple: a loving son tries to move mountains and create miracles to help his ailing mother become well again. Sounds simple, but in what kind of story this has been packed! A single mother lives with her son, Alex, and her daughter Ariane in Berlin, the capital of the GDR (German Democratic Republic), her husband has defected to West Germany because of another woman - or so she tells her children. Later she confesses to have lied to them because she herself can´t bear the truth. She isn´t interested in finding a new partner and throws herself body and soul into party work. The story proper begins in October 1989 when the GDR is in its terminal stage, political demonstrations take place nearly daily. Alex, now 21 years old, is among those who take to the streets. One day when his mother is on her way to the Palace of the Republic for a festive meeting he is in a demonstration which is broken up by the police, the tax i can´t take her to her destination because the streets are blocked, she gets out and sees her son being hauled into a police truck. She has a heart attack, falls into a coma and is taken to hospital. What a coincidence, yes, indeed, but the film has to start somehow and then there is a fairy tale element in the whole story. Eight months later she awakens and can be taken home, but her heart is so weak that any shock might kill her and shocks there are in abundance: the Wall has come down, the GDR doesn´t exist any more, capitalism is triumphing! What to do? Alex and Ariane transform the flat back into its former humble (socialist) state and give their mother the impression that her beloved GDR is still intact and flourishing. Things don´t look too bad at first, when she wants to listen to the radio they tell her that it is broken, but when she gets better and insists on watching TV, they have to think of something. Fortunately (coincidence again!) Alex is a TV technician with a talented friend (Denis), they make up the daily news praising the achievements of communism in a studio and put the cassettes into the telly. The convalescent is getting better and better and one day, when she is alone at home she gets up, leaves her sick room and steps out of the house into a completely transformed city. How do they explain the many Wessies (people from West Germany), the many cars, the house high ads for Coca Cola without risking her imminent death? Go and watch for yourselves! The actors are brilliant, the story sounds true despite the fairy tale coincidences; Daniel Brühl said that he got on so well with his film mother that his own mother became jealous. Also the minor characters, the neighbours in the house, the colleague, the Father's family in the West, are just like people we know. When we Germans see the film, we know at once where in the audience Ossies sit (Ossi [pronounced Oss-ee] = someone from East Germany), they groan, snigge r, laugh out loud where Wessies don´t react at all or just smile. I´m a borderline case, I lived in the GDR for the first 11 years of my life and have had constant contact with my relatives there. When I was at school it was not yet obligatory to be a member of the Young Pioneers, the children´s organisation of the Communist Party, but I was affected. The best pupils always got badges from the Young Pioneers as a reward and as I always was among the best [sadly, this changed when I went to secondary school :-)] I got them, too, they didn´t have any others! When I saw and heard the Young Pioneers singing it all came back to me. I´d like to pick out one scene: Alex falls in love with the nurse Lara, serious house shortage was one of the many problems in the GDR, so where could the lovers go? The girl gets the address of a flat whose occupants have fled to the West leaving everything, and that is *everything* behind, the flat looks as if they´d just gone out to the pictures and may return every moment. My mother and I did just that, only that the moment our train was leaving Dresden, my grandmother arrived with a van and took all our possessions to a store room before the neighbours could inform the police (and then sent us parcels for years). I´m sure a woman I spoke to the other day could´t watch this scene without crying, she left the GDR with only a suitcase via Hungary three months before the collapse, had she waited a bit longer she wouldn´t have had to start a new life in West Germany from scratch. Alex can´t believe his luck, he finds a kitchen full of food. To make his mother believe the GDR is still alive he has to feed her with GDR products, but where to get them? One of the first things was that all the shops were emptied of the GDR goods and filled with the goods the Ossies had longed for for 40 years. Can you imagine that they had never had bananas, oranges, lemons, pineapples? Thought so, you can´t. Without their garden plots the popula tion would have suffered severely from scurvy. And the goods there were couldn´t even be got regularly, Vitamin B was necessary, B standing for Beziehungen (connections), i.e., you scratch my back, I´ll scratch yours. Knowing all this the joy Alex´ mother feels when she gets a basket full of ordinary food stuff for her birthday becomes understandable. When she takes the things out and reads the labels the Ossies int the audience can´t but comment. A new word has been coined, Ostalgie, East German nostalgia for the past. How´s that? Aren´t all Ossies happy to have been liberated? Can you imagine to be told that 40 years of your life, that everything you had learnt, got used to and liked and also loved (why not?) was wrong, an illusion at best? Again, you can´t, I can´t, either. The director, Wolfgang Becker, a Wessie, btw, with no personal connections to the GDR is overwhelmed by the success of his film, he hadn´t intended to hit a nerve, but he has. Cast: Daniel Brühl (Alex) Katrin Saß (Mother) Chulpan Khamatova (Lara), Maria Simon (Ariane) Florian Lukas (Denis) Burghart Klaussner (Father) __________________ Bernd Lichtenberg (author) Stefan Arndt (producer) Yann Tiersen (music) 120 min. genre: comedy from 6 years onwards

                      Comments

                      Login or register to add comments
                        More Comments
                      • More +
                        09.12.2003 16:53
                        Very helpful
                        (Rating)
                        11 Comments

                        Advantages

                        Disadvantages

                        It is a proud day for Communist East Germany ~ their first Cosmonaut, Commander Sigmund Jaehn, is being launched in an international Soyuz mission. The Party leaders are happy, and the grainy TV footage is appealing to young and old across the Soviet Block. In the home of Alex, however, there has been a more personal and shorter journey. His father has left his family (wife Christiane, son and Alex's older sister) in Berlin, for West Germany. We first see the family with the children trying to see the news of their Cosmonaut, and their mother trying to fend off questions from some plain~clothes policemen regarding their father and his absence. As a result of that absence, Christiane goes into months of still silence, paying no attention to what goes on around her, including the pleas of the children who love her to "come back". She does, eventually, but not exactly the way she departed. For she instead throws herself into working for the Communist Party. Alex gets a natty blue uniform, the local Pioneer gets a lot of her spare time as she conducts the choir and their holiday trips, and she develops a fine line in complaining to clothing manufacturers about the sizes and colours of their impracticable, Socialist fashions. Fast forward through those ten years, and we have the end of the 1980s. As we can remember, this is a major time of change ~ the Cold War ends, the Soviet Block disintegrates, and with no Berlin Wall, Germany becomes one. However our devoted mother will see none of that. As she tries to attend a Party function, she encounters a protest against the Wall. This starts as a peaceful march, but turns to police~led violence. And at the sight of her Alex in the middle of it all, she has a heart attack, and ends up comatose. Before she can ever leave the hospital, Alex is told the merest shock or excitement could be the death of her. Which is all well and good, except the news eac h night is revolutionary enough to be very bad news indeed. One of the brilliant things about Good Bye Lenin! is that one can just idly summarise it as a film about a Socialist woman who sleeps through the Fall of the Wall, only to wake to find her son has resurrected East Germany and kept it alive just for his bedridden mother. But there is so much more. There is a heart~warming romance between Alex and one of his mother's nurses. There is the domestic strife between Alex and his sister, with her young family of her own being forced to take a step back ~ back into grotty East German clothes, and plastic nappies. There is good humour to be had too in the growth of Western German influences into the barren East ~ the invasion of Coca-Cola vans that pass one of the last Changings of the Guard, and Alex's new job installing satellite dishes that glint down on newly satisfied mass consumers. But mostly there is the brilliant balance played out between those Western attractions and the need Alex forces upon his kin and his girlfriend ~ the need that they must keep 'Mum' entirely about any possible end of East Germany. And there is a lot of scope for this, as Good Bye Lenin is one of the most bittersweet comedies of recent years. Just take the one example, of Alex successfully arranging an old~style birthday party for Christiane, only for a certain hindrance to his plan being unfurled outside the window... Below the surface humour and intriguing plot machinations, there is a serious tale to be told ~ one of politics personal and public, and how unhappiness caused by either can heap sadness upon sadness. And beyond that there is also a mild polemic about the planet that Cosmonaut Jaehn looked down upon, with the suggestion being that only by living in a fantasy world can we pretend this world is ideal, and that perchance, if we choose to live a lie, it might be the only way we can find ourselves living as we wish. There is indeed such a pessimistic reading available at the end of this film, but by then you would more than likely be both weeping and laughing too much to even notice. It would take this review to unacceptable lengths if all the swings of emotion were to be mentioned. But if it is just said that Good Bye Lenin is the film of 2003, it is hoped that that covers them all. However it not only has one of the best plots of any film this year, it has some of the best acting, the most sterling direction, the most sublime music... Daniel Bruehl as Alex is excellent, playing the role just right. He is ever convincing as the struggling man, left with a dead~end job by both countries, yet given a majorly important meaning in life as he builds this fantasy world. Neither handsome nor plain, never dim nor too clever~clever, the character comes across as perfectly believable. His girlfriend is equally rounded ~ OK, she is more attractive, but she has her own purpose for being here, and in the hands of Chulpan Khamatova is a fully~fledged three~dimensional character. And as for the Mother, her face is perfectly expressive, and the part is played by Katrin Sass to a T again (no, you?re not expected to have heard of any of the cast?). She provides humour, sympathy, and a joint focus with the son struggling on her behalf to keep her dream alive. The story~telling is excellent ~ at least the subtitles are intelligent, and seem to show a very smart script being put to good use by all actors. It is just so clever in the way that the fantasy of the continued East Germany, even confined to one room of one flat, nearly escalates into an opposite of what did happen. And escalate it does ~ especially when Mum decides she does after all want to see what the GDR TV are broadcasting these days... The proudest person involved in the film must surely be co~writer and director, Wolfgang Becker. While there remains one slightly dodgy element to the film ~ only one, mind ~ where the coma~causing protest is rather clumsily shot (how *is* she allowed to walk around those policemen and into the middle of the intersection like that?!), the direction is excellent. Neither staid nor tricksy, neither relying on the characters, the plot nor the scenery, and with just the right amount of actual news footage, everything about it works. There is every opportunity for us to feel for these characters and the happenings in the film, and we take them all. The protest's violence is horrific. The medical worries are worrying. The humour is very humorous ~ and to all those who replaced their racist assumptions about Germans and comedy with ?well, who would have thought it? German comedy does actually exist, and work? ~ you're still racist. And as for the title scene... Here it must be said that this review is being written in the light of a second viewing, and the tears were welling up right from the start of the build~up. Yes, the actual key image has been done before (some Greek director did it years ago too), but the emotions in that one scene are just soaring, and validate the expense of admission in one fell swoop. To repeat, this is the film of the year. As if the fact that theediscerning actually paid to see the film twice isn't enough, the previous has been given as evidence. As is this ~ in the week of writing, the film made the European Film Awards their own ~ winning best film, best actor and screenplay, and picking up every one of the audience~voted awards. And this ~ on a sub~5 million Euro budget, it made 38 million in Germany alone, with over 6 million admissions. And the following ~ months after his local art~house cinema completely sold out a pair of showings, they have it back ~ and again are more than half~full, for a cold Monday teatime showing. And all this for a film that has the alien roots of reflection back on ?der DDR?, and a ques tioning of nostalgia (or Ostalgie ~ for the Ost or East Germany). Luckily we in the UK can ignore the probability that we miss some humour and many references, and enjoy this is as a great modern cinematic classic. Just as people thought that one Germany would be perfectly happy, exuberant and just brilliant at everything, so this film outlives that dream. It is perfectly happy, exuberant and just brilliant at everything.

                        Comments

                        Login or register to add comments
                          More Comments