Good Bye, Lenin!

Good Bye, Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film, directed by Wolfgang Becker. The cast includes Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, and Maria Simon. The story follows a family in East Germany; the mother (Saß) is dedicated to the socialist cause and falls into a coma shortly before the 1989 revolution. When she is revived eight months later, her son (Brühl) attempts to protect her from fatal shock by concealing the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of socialism.

Most scenes were shot at the Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin and around Plattenbauten near Alexanderplatz. Good Bye, Lenin! received numerous honours, including the European Film Award for Best Film and German Film Award for Best Feature Film.

Good Bye, Lenin!
Good Bye Lenin
Theatrical release poster
German Good Bye, Lenin!
Directed by Wolfgang Becker
Produced by Stefan Arndt
Written by
  • Wolfgang Becker
  • Bernd Lichtenberg
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Martin Kukula
Edited by Peter R. Adam
Production
company
X-Filme Creative Pool
Distributed by X Verleih AG (Germany)
Release date
  • 13 February 2003
Running time
121 minutes
Country Germany
Language German
Budget DM 9.6 millon (4.8 million) (approx. $6.5 million)
Box office $79,384,880

Plot

The film is set in East Berlin, from October 1989 to just after German reunification a year later.

Alex lives with his sister, Ariane, his mother, Christiane, and Ariane's infant daughter, Paula. (It appears that his father abandoned the family and fled to the West in 1978.) Christiane has become an ardent supporter of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (the Party). On the other hand, Alex is disgusted with the drab celebration of East Germany's 40th anniversary and participates in an anti-government demonstration. There he meets a girl, but they are separated by the Volkspolizei before they can properly introduce themselves.

When Christiane sees Alex being arrested, she suffers a near-fatal heart attack and falls into a coma. While visiting his mother in the hospital, Alex encounters the girl he met in the demonstration, Lara, a nurse from the Soviet Union who is caring for his mother. Alex and Lara soon begin dating and develop a close bond.

Shortly afterward, the Berlin Wall falls, Erich Honecker resigns from office, and capitalism comes to East Berlin. Alex loses his job as a TV repairman but is hired by a West German cable company. Alex is paired with Denis Domaschke, an aspiring West German filmmaker with whom Alex quickly becomes good friends. When Ariane's university closes, she works at a Burger King drive-through.

After eight months, Christiane awakens from her coma, but she is severely weakened and her doctor warns that any shock might cause another, possibly fatal, heart attack. Alex realises that the discovery of recent events would be too much for her to bear and decides to maintain the illusion that things are as before in the German Democratic Republic. To do so, Alex, Ariane, and Lara revert their West decor to the decor they previously had in the bedroom of their now bed-ridden mother in the family apartment, dress in their old clothes, and repackage new Western products in old East German jars. Their deception is successful, though increasingly complicated as Christiane occasionally witnesses strange occurrences, such as a gigantic Coca-Cola advertisement banner on an adjacent building that she sees through her bedroom window. With Denis' help, Alex edits old tapes of East German news broadcasts and creates fake reports to explain these odd events.

Christiane eventually gains strength and wanders outside one day while Alex is asleep. She sees all her neighbours' old furniture piled up in the street, advertisements for Western corporations, and a statue of Lenin being flown away by a helicopter. Alex and Ariane quickly take her home and show her a fake report that East Germany is now accepting refugees from the West following a severe economic crisis there.

Soon after, the family goes to inspect their dacha in the countryside at Christiane's suggestion. While they are there along with Lara and Ariane's new Western boyfriend, Rainer, Christiane reveals her own secret: Her husband had fled because the Party had been increasingly oppressing him, and the plan had been for the rest of the family to join him. Christiane, fearing the government would take Alex and Ariane away from her if things went wrong, chose to stay. As she regrets the decision, Christiane relapses and is taken back to the hospital.

Alex meets his father, Robert, and convinces him to see Christiane one last time, stating he should say he was moved to return East to see his dying wife. Under pressure to reveal the truth about the fall of the East, Alex creates a final fake news segment, convincing a taxi driver (who is or resembles the cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn, the first German in space and Alex's childhood hero) to act in the false news report as the new leader of East Germany and to give a speech about opening the borders to the West. However, Christiane already knows the truth (Lara tried to convince her about the real political developments earlier the same day). Nevertheless, she reacts fondly to her son's effort, without mentioning anything.

Christiane dies two days later: She outlives the GDR, passing away three days after full official German reunification. Alex, Ariane, Lara, Denis, and Robert scatter her ashes in the wind using an old toy rocket Alex made with his father during his childhood.

Cast

Soundtrack

The film score was composed by Yann Tiersen, except the version of "Summer 78" sung by Claire Pichet. Stylistically, the music is very similar to Tiersen's earlier work on the soundtrack to Amélie. One piano composition, "Comptine d'un autre été : L'après-midi", is used in both films.

Several famous GDR songs are featured. Two children, members of the Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation, sing Unsere Heimat (Our Homeland). Friends of Christiane (living in the same building) follow with Bau Auf! Bau Auf! (Build Up! Build Up!), another anthem of the Free German Youth. The final fake newscast with Sigmund Jähn features a rousing rendition of the GDR national anthem, Auferstanden aus Ruinen.

Ostalgie

Alexander creates fictional newscasts to reminisce his earlier East German lifestyle as well as a communist environment. He goes out of his way to use East German products to fool his mother such as Spreewald gherkins and although this is all for his mother, you can also tell he is creating a fantasy in which he would like to live in. Alexander lived his whole life with this barrier; therefore the drastic change was hard for him unlike his sister Ariane. Ariane adopts the new Western ideals and lifestyle, but the feeling of longing that Alex experiences is ostalgie. Ostalgie is a neologism for the nostalgia for a communist past that is a common theme in Good Bye, Lenin![1]

A noticeable moment when Alex shows signs of ostalgie is when he begins to question the Western changes.[1] For example, he gets angry when his mother's currency cannot be converted into Deutschemarks because he passed the deadline by two days. He was mad at the new Western rules that were imposed that he still had not yet been accustomed to. Another example can be the videos that Alex creates for his mother. The movies are a sign of where his philosophy stands on the whole situation and how he wishes that socialism peacefully was recognized as a better way of living unlike capitalism taking over abruptly.

The director, Wolfgang Becker, purposely left out politics and large negative details to draw attention to the nostalgic tone. He wanted to focus on the personal aspect of an East German family and how even though they were in a communist environment, they focused more on traditions and family related matters.[2] One theme that did remain, was realization of bluntness in the mother's shock at seeing her son clubbed; police brutality being the reality of the socialist system she apparently endorsed all these years.

Finally in 2004 the New York Times commented on "Ostalgie" which was embodied in a town called Eisenhüttenstadt.[1] It became popular because of Good Bye, Lenin! which imitated Christiane's bedroom. This put a lot of light on the ostalgie situation, as well as the film.

Reception

The film received strong positive reviews, holding a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Empire gave the film four stars out of five with a verdict of, "An ingenious little idea that is funny, moving and—gasp!—even makes you think."[3]

Empire magazine ranked it 91st in "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.[4]

Accolades

Good Bye, Lenin! was submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but not nominated.[5]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
BAFTA Awards 15 February 2004 Best Film Not in the English Language Wolfgang Becker Nominated [6]
César Awards February 2004 Best Film from the European Union Won [7]
European Film Awards 6 December 2003 Best Film Won [8][9]
Best Director Nominated
Best Actor Daniel Brühl Won
Best Screenwriter Bernd Lichtenberg Won
Best Actress Katrin Saß Nominated
German Film Awards 2003 Best Feature Film Wolfgang Becker Won [10]
Best Direction Won
Outstanding Actor Daniel Brühl Won
Outstanding Actress Katrin Saß Nominated
Outstanding Screenwriter Bernd Lichtenberg Won
Outstanding Editing Peter R. Adam Won
Outstanding Music Yann Tiersen Won
Outstanding Production Design Lothar Holler Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor Florian Lukas Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress Maria Simon Nominated
Golden Globes 25 January 2004 Best Foreign Language Film Wolfgang Becker Nominated [11]
Goya Awards 31 January 2004 Best European Film Won [12]
London Film Critics' Circle 11 February 2004 Foreign Language Film of the Year Won [13]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Goodbye Lenin, hello 'Ostalgie'". Green Left Weekly. 2016-09-06. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  2. ^ "Goodbye Lenin: the uses of nostalgia". openDemocracy. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  3. ^ "Empire's Good Bye Lenin! Movie Review". empireonline.com. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  4. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema". Empire.
  5. ^ Meza, Ed (17 September 2003). "'Lenin' Germany's Oscar entrant". Variety. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Film in 2004". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  7. ^ Fouché, Gwladys (24 February 2004). "Barbarian Invasions overwhelms Césars". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. ^ "'Good Bye, Lenin!' Leads European Film Award Nominations". IndieWire. 10 November 2003. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Germany's "Lenin" Wins Top Prizes at European Film Awards". IndieWire. 8 December 2003. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Lenin comedy wins German awards". BBC News. 8 June 2003. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Good Bye, Lenin!". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  12. ^ Schwartz, Ronald (2008). Great Spanish Films Since 1950. Scarecrow Press. p. 348. ISBN 1461696615.
  13. ^ Whiteman, Bobby (11 February 2004). "'Master' lord of London". Variety. Retrieved 23 June 2018.

Further reading

  • Kapczynski, Jennifer M. (2007). "Negotiating Nostalgia: The GDR Past in Berlin is in Germany and Good Bye, Lenin!". The Germanic Review. 82 (1): 78–100. doi:10.3200/GERR.82.1.78-100.

External links

Awards
Preceded by
The Pianist
Goya Award for Best European Film
2003
Succeeded by
Head-On

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.