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John O'Loughlin on 'Goodbye Lenin!',
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This review is from: Good Bye Lenin! [DVD]  (DVD)
After watching her son being arrested during a demonstration against the Berlin Wall, an active party member, played by Katrin Sass, faints and slides into a coma which lasts for eight months. In the meantime the Wall has come down and Germany is once again united, but her family, fearing for her health, refuse to divulge the truth and decide on a number of subterfuges to hide it from her and make her believe that East Germany still exists as a communist state. For a while they are successful, but eventually cracks begin to appear in their elaborate schemes to hide the collapse of the East German state from her, not least when, having been bedridden for some time, she ventures out of doors one day to discover even more changes than she had earlier suspected, including, bizarrely, a statue of Lenin being hauled across the city by helicopter. Eventually her son's girlfriend, who happens to be a nurse, endeavours to divulge the fact of German unity to her, but the subterfuges continue and she dies apparently believing that East Germany has simply opened its doors to the West and allowed 'Wessies' to come and work in the East. In a way, this is a ridiculous plot, but there are so many pleasing aspects to the film that one accepts it for what it is - an interesting vehicle to hide what could be fatal news to a staunch Communist whose health, to say the least, is precarious. What I liked best about this film was the close-knit family interplay involving both Christiane's son and daughter, as well as the parts played by various neighbours and associates, of whom there are no shortage. So a good film enhanced by splendid acting, not least from the estimable likes a Daniel Bruhl (Christiane's son Alex), Michael Gwisdek (a retired professor by name of Klapratt) Burghart Klaussner (her ex-husband, now located in the West), Florian Lukas (a friend of Alex who masterminds a number of decpetions), and Maria Simon (as Christiane's daughter Ariane).
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Jan 2012 18:02:23 GMT
Charles Wells says:
I beg to differ on the view that the mother died believing the elaborate subterfuge concocted by her her son. Watch her last scene and you will clearly see that the tables have turned and she is going along with the ruse so as not to dissapoint her son.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2012 18:44:09 GMT
Thanks for the comment Charles, and I tend to agree, although there is an element of ambiguity as to whether German unity has been accepted by her on the basis of the West coming to the East or of the East, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, going to the West, so to speak. That scene does suggest that she knows more than she is prepared to let on, but the total collapse of East Germany and its absorption into the West would be difficult for anyone to swallow, let along a person in her precarious health, particularly as things still had some way to go at that time.
Posted on 16 Jan 2013 00:06:12 GMT
D. Green says:
This is a good, thoughtful review, except... did you really have to include spoilers? Surely you could have given a flavour of the film without revealing what happens in the end. However, as anyone reading this far has already found out that Christiane dies near the end of the film, I will say that I disagree with your interpretation of events. Lara has told her the truth about the collapse of communism, but Alex is unaware of this and keeps up the pretence. The look Christiane gives her son from behind his back in one of the last scenes is that of a mother who is fully aware of what her son has done for her and just how much he loves her. I would suggest that anyone who says Germans have no sense of humour should watch this film, but anyone who believes that a nation of 82 million people all think alike probably wouldn't appreciate the subtleties on display here. A lovely film.
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