Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Goodbye, Lenin! (2003)

Director: Wolfgang Becker. Cast: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, Burghart Klaußner. 121 min. Rated R. Germany. Comedy/Drama.

It's very tough for a comedy, in a foreign language, about a sociopolitical issue, in East Germany ... to still be funny. But miraculously, Goodbye, Lenin! achieves that improbability. The story of an overzealous mother in Communist GDR, who goes into a coma while the Berlin wall fell, and wakes up to a son and daughter hiding her from the truth, has so many poignant moments embedded in reality, you don't have to be German to be affected by this profound satire: The old cling to a dead dream, and the young appease them by playing along with that dream.

PS: Ebert rounds it up well: "How many of us lie to our parents, pretending a world still exists that they believe in but we have long since moved away from? And are those lies based on love or cowardice? Sometimes, despite a doctor's warnings, parents have to take their chances with the truth."

PPS: Sorry, Ali S. If it weren't for some minor story implausibilities, you almost had another MoMagic!

Mo says:


  1. After reading your review and having it recommended by an old friend I just had to see this, the DVD arrived yesterday and I have to say it was well worth the money.
    The humour did work but overall I felt the drama won out, I found the film quite sad. It was important to show the crumbling of the old system in favour of the rampant commercialism that we all seem to love.
    I learned a new word as well! "Ostalgie" a German word for nostalgia for certain aspects of life in East Germany. Look it up but try not to get lost in the old world, the reality was of course pretty grim for most east Germans.

    1. I enjoyed this film because I have first-hand experience of what it's trying to elaborate upon: my generation trying to appease the older generation's "mad" dreams, by just playing along with the madness. The component that this movie added to that concept, was that both generations "know" the other generation is lying. Such a bitter fact.

      My problem with the story, was that the mother's heart attacks kept happening at very opportune times to serve the story, making it difficult to believe. But then again, to deliver the movie's message, I guess the screenwriter had no choice.