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on 19 November 2011
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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on 9 April 2014
My low score has less to do with the quality of the product and more to do with the fact that I can't say one way or the other if it's any good. I should already have received it by now, yet haven't.
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on 18 May 2010
I came accross Goodbye Lenin! rather bizzarely because the music in the film was by the fabulous musician, Yann Tiersen, who most famously soundtracked the french film 'Amelie' in 1997. I have been a fan of Yann's music for years now, and so, knowing the work of Yann Tiersen and knowing that the man never works on bad films, i curiously investigated and thus came accross this gem of a film.
The film ostensibly is about Alex Kerner, his sister Ariane and their mother Christiane, who is a staunch socialist in East Germany. Whilst Alex is on a peaceful march one night in the late 1980s to protest the prescence of the Berlin Wall, Christiane catches him and subsequently has a heart attack which sends her into a coma. Christiane misses on all the major events that took place whilst she is in a coma - including, rather obviously, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism. On the event of her waking up several months later, Alex is told that any shock might kill her, and so starts Alex's mission to maintain and recreate the old East Germany within the confines of the family's little flat, protecting his mother from the shock of discovering the collapse of her beloved socialism and everything she previously knew.
The film is in esscence a comedy and much of the comedy in this film comes from Alex trying to, for example, get his hands on products that were sold pre-capitalism, and thus we see Alex running around, looking for products such as Mocha-Fix Gold(coffee),and pickles which are simply no longer sold - all in the name of maintaining the facade. The 'news reports' which Alex creates with his movie-producing friend are very funny indeed, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments to be had in this film :) The film is however also very European, and specifically very German, and therefore gives some very interesting insights into what Berlin was like after the wall came down. There is a fascinating sequence where Alex, who is narrating the film, is looking for a flat, and explains in the voice-over that after the wall came down, people in the East moved to the west and never returned, leaving huge amounts of property in Berlin simply abandoned, free to be claimed by whoever moved in first! This was something that I had never realised, despite knowing my history.
The cast are stellar in this film - particularly Katrin Sass, a notable actress from East Germany, who plays Christiane, and Daniel Bruhl who plays Alex.
This film is charming, clever, warm and uplifting, and frequently very, very funny :) It should be seen by as many people as possible! And Yann Tiersens soundtrack adds enormously to the film too, adding atmosphere and emotion. xxxxx
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VINE VOICEon 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.

Highly recommended.
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on 11 November 2012
I don't think I'll add to the other plot summaries here, but I have to say that this film always reminded me of Billy Wilders little known One, Two, Three [DVD]. Particularly due to the physical similarity between Daniel Bruhl and Horst Bucholz. That film is set just before the Berlin Wall went up and revolves around a coca-cola executive (James Cagney) trying to create a market in East Berlin and also trying to hide from his boss that the bosses daughter has married an East Berliner, played by Bucholz.
Both films portray the cold war from the point of view of the man or girl in the street and as a battle between marketing and propaganda rather than political and nuclear stand-offs. And both are funny.
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on 28 April 2013
This is possibly my favourite film. The comments on the case suggest that it is a hilarious comedy, and it does have many very funny moments, but to call it a comedy doesn't prepare you for just how incredibly moving it is. The story is itself a very clever idea, and perfect material for a great farce, but the substance of the film is the love and devotion of a teenage son for his ailing mother, and the lengths he will go to to keep her alive in her delicate state. The funniest moments are the fake East German newsreels he has to produce with his new work partner, an amateur filmmaker, to try and explain the strange changes his mother notices outside, as she slowly recovers, and Alex finds himself creating for her an East Germany with a more human face. The film is beautifully made, the scene with Lenin's statue is simply wonderful. The music is lovely. A beautiful, moving film.
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on 25 February 2004
This is a fantastic example of what a good film should be. None of your Hollywood nonsense here, this is the real thing. It is a wonderful blend of gentle humour and tugging on the heart strings as Alex attempts to protect his mother's fragile life by trying to convince her that her beloved DDR is still in existence despite it's fall during her time in a coma. He manages to convince his sister, now employed at an American chain restaurant to help out along with her West German boyfriend. His new work colleague, also from the west and a budding director, comes to the rescue in trying to produce convincing news reports from the now defunct DDR. The arrival on the scene of the estranged father and the unfolding of the true story behind his departure almost brings a tear to the eye. All in all a fantastic film where a beautiful blend of superb cinematography, top-quality acting and an excellent sound track make it a film that you can see again and again and enjoy it everytime.
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on 16 April 2004
I must say that before I went to see this film I knew next to nothing about it - I only went to see it because a friend of mine had heard of it and asked me to come and see it with her. I left the cinema absolutely astonished. This is simply the best film I have seen in the last few months.
On the simplest level the plot is a moving one, the story of a son and a daughter who have to leave their mother in "blissful ignorance" in order to keep her alive. It is labelled as a comedy, but in fact it concentrates mainly on the emotional nature of this story, which the actors portray with real skill that had me really emotionally invested in the characters' lives. If you have any empathy or emotion I guarantee that you will be moved by this film, and that you will want to watch it more than just once.
It is not a political film, and the fall of the Berlin Wall is mainly just a vehicle for the plot, but the film does make some political commentaries on East Germany and the "Wende". I did feel that I had gained a little more of a view of life in the GDR "from the inside", for which no small portion of the credit must go to the vast amount of research that the team put into every detail of this film. I got an feeling for the uncertainty, the insecurity, and the feeling of having one's life turned upside-down.
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on 18 July 2015
Very amusing and wistful film. Gives a side ways look at Berlin and some of its characteristics and the irony cuts both ways: we really do not know whether to cheer or mourn the coming down of the Wall. I read you could buy a huge palatial residence in the Wannsee because property prices were so depressed by the uncertainty that hung over the whole city: of course post 1989 if you were sitting on such a desirable address you became inexorably rich. Despite some misty eyed sympathetic proclivities towards old fashioned socialism - I believe its cultural and scientific achievements were second to none, and respect for the values of social provision, which for better or worse spurred the Western democracies on to providing housing and health on a more generous and wider scale than would otherwise have been the case, the Red East did have a dark and mean, if not barbaric under belly of depression and abuse documented by its own journalists such as Gundula Schulze Eldowy. And this film is rather too happy clappy for my taste, glossing over a lot of indescribable suffering both before and during the upheavals and fall of communism.

But of course, in the demonic spirit of this most cosmopolitan and worldly capital city that has seen just about everything, one has to put all that to one side and say this is just a mockery, a light hearted take on events.

I also liked the more serious and pithy "Coming Out" which is a gay film of a young Berliner's journey through these events. Another side of a city that has many dimensiins. Who said there were just two halves in Berlin?
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on 9 July 2007
The reason why this DVD version of the movie is currently discounted at 3 GBP is probably that it only has german sound with non-optional english subtitles.

So it's a frustrating experience for both those who don't understand german (they have to read subtitles) and those who understand german (they can't make the subtitles disappear).

This technical limitation is OF COURSE not indicated on the Amazon product page and only in 1mm letters on the back cover.
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