Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
What Would Lenin Have Thought..A Comedy About the Demise of Communism?
on 1 August 2011
I came across the super comedy a number of years ago when I was staying in Germany. I have a number of friends from Rostock Eastern Germany and as a lecturer in International Relations in the USA, have talked endlessly about life in the former Warsaw Pact countries with Czech, Polish and German friends. This film looks at the collapse of the GDR from one family's perspective in a way that mirrors what I was told happened by my friends.
The plot is simple but intriguing. It begins in the closing days of the GDR. The narrative is given by Alexander (Daniel Bruhl), who is an unhappy young man living in a claustrophobic system, which he feels is oppressing him. He lives with his mother, a devout communist since her husband fled to the West and sister in a small communist flat in East Berlin. Alexander is involved in a demonstration and gets arrested in front of his mother. The shock of his arrest brings on a heart attack which leaves her in a comma for a number of months. Whilst the mother is in the comma the GDR collapses, the wall comes down, western goods and eventually money flood into the East, the sister finds a West German boyfriend, the family flat gets a western make over and many peoples lives change. When the mother awakens, the doctors are afraid a shock may kill her, so being a devout communist and fearing finding out there is no GDR any more, Alexander decides to keep what has happened secret from his mother, with hysterical consequences.
Whilst the film is humorous it is also quite a sad and reflective film. It shows that not everything changed for the best and all things western had their personal and societal costs. The tension between East and West Germans, which I felt when I lived in Wurzburg in 1990 and Luneburg in 1992, comes across brilliantly. The characterisations used in the film are all sublime. The cost to East German society is left wide open so all can see in terms of, unemployment, alcoholism and the consequences for the family of an escapee to the West. I actually use this film in my USA International Relations classes, to show students that not everything was bad behind the Iron Curtain and that there was a severe societal cost to the wall coming down and the westernisation process.
I think this film is sublime representation on life in an Eastern Bloc country and how the country changed due to westernisation. It is a comedy but it also shows the negative side to all the changes that happened in 1989 and 1990. I think this is the best German comedy I have seen in many years. My version had great English subtitles.