GROUP F

Info

Original Title: Good Bye Lenin!
Country: Germany
Director: Wolfgang Becker
Release: 2003
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Language: German

31.01.2020: This review was first published on 01.06.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.

Hello! Welcome to Ulven Reviews!

Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye Lenin! tells the story of Alex, a young man doing unimaginable thinks to spare his socialist mother the pain of founding out a nearly unified Germany, opened up to the capitalist world.

Good Bye, Lenin! 08.png

World Cup Historic

The German football association was founded in 1900 and began playing the World Cup in 1934 and 1938 under the Nazi Rule. Alongside Japan, Germany was banned from the 1950 World Cup, because of the World War II, while the other Nazi allies, including former fascist Italy, had their participation allowed.

In 1954, West Germany, got the first title, winning the final against the powerful Hungary of Ferenc Puskás, and Sándor Kocsis. I mentioned this Hungary loss before, as one of the greatest upsets in the tournament’s history.

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Image from British Pathé taken from a Daily Mail article

The Germans won the World Cup three other times since then. Including a heavy-beating against Brazil in a semi-final, the notorious 7-1, and later winning the title against Argentina, in the extra-time.

In 2018, their performance was atrocious, losing to Mexico and South Korea. They beat Sweden with a marvelous Toni Kroos late goal, but with lots of controversial calls against Sweden. Obviously, they were eliminated without reaching the knockout stage.

Prelude

After the Second World War, Germany was divided into East and West. East Germany was socialist and Soviet-occupied. Until November 89, when the Berlin Wall began to be taken down, a historical event, that provided iconic scenes of people crossing east and west, helping tear the wall apart.

One of the things that the fall of the Berlin Wall marked was the end of the Communist hysteria. Even with the conspiracy theorists waging a pseudo-war against communism, we could say that communism is not a reality for most countries anymore.

Good Bye, Lenin! 01
Alex (Daniel Brühl), mother (Katrin Saß) and sister Ariane (Maria Simon)

According to this article, there are only five communist countries left in the world today. Except for North Korea, all of them have opened and changed their policies to better adequate to the state of the world.

Communism is a very vague term in the way it’s used today, but the definition the site uses seems to be Leninist, which has the country in a dictatorship of the proletariat led by a vanguard political party.

Vladimir Lenin statue
Statue of Lenin

Leninism is based on Vladimir Lenin’s interpretation of Marxism. As far as I know, Marx never talked about a communist society being led by a totalitarian single-party. Marx’s work is more of a critique of capitalism, and the Marxism we have today was developed by the followers.

If you have an interest in learning about Marxism without stupid prejudice, look for actual Marxist academics. You might disagree with them, but at least you will not be disagreeing with a straw man created by someone else.

Good Bye, Lenin! 11.png
German flags flying after a World Cup win

By the way, there is no such thing as Cultural Marxism. It’s just a conspiracy theory by dumb and ill-intentioned people, based on a bizarre and wrong interpretation of Antonio Gramsci’s work. Now, to the movie.

Good Bye, Lenin!

Alexander Kerner or Alex (played by Daniel Brühl) is a young man living with his sister Ariane (played by Maria Simon), her baby daughter Paula (Laureen and Felicitas Hatscher), and his avid socialist mother Christiane (played by Katrin Saß) in East Germany.

On the day of the commemoration for 40 years of East Germany, Alex attends a protest against the government, ending up arrested. Right at the moment of his arrest, his mother sees him getting taken and has a heart attack.

Christiane stays in a coma for several months, and while she’s unconscious, the Berlin Wall falls. The country begins to open to external, capitalist influences, becoming a much more westernized country.

When visiting his mother in the hospital, Alex meets Lara (played by Chulpan Khamatova), a smart young woman who happens to be Christiane’s nurse. Later the two become a couple.

When the matriarch awakes from the coma, in such a different country, Alex fears his mother could have another heart attack and die. So he does unimaginable deeds to keep the mother alienated from the country’s reality.

Good Bye, Lenin! 12
Alex (Daniel Brühl)

The film has a very creative and captivating plot, and the way this story is told is really compelling. One of the devices used to tell the story is making the plot of the characters in parallel with the historical facts.

You have the fall of the Berlin Wall and all the things that came with it. This event has a broad and direct impact on the plot. While the 1990 World Cup, also present in the movie, is more distant to the characters, but it’s still used to tell their story.

There was also the use of CGI to give the movie the 1990 East Germany appearance to the city. Most of the time, it’s impossible to say that the place was fixed with CGI, it’s really well done.

The practical settings and the costumes also really help with the late-80s look of the movie. Also, merely a stylistic choice that worked, most spaces seem tight, almost claustrophobic, and chaotic.

Good Bye, Lenin! 04
Christiane (Katrin Saß) after the heart attack

The movie is somewhat light, because it’s funny, and fun to watch. There are also moments of seriousness and tragedy, but every time I think about the film, my first memory is about how fun the movie is.

With the premise of the movie, it had everything to be a pathetic, overdramatic film with a sad piano in the background. A mother wakes up after a long coma, and the loving son does everything in his power to protect her from strong emotions.

However, with that premise, they made the movie take a completely different path, becoming an incredibly funny comedy. It still has the same theme around family unity, and the love and recognition of a son for his mother, but instead of a tear-jerking one, an entertaining one.

The characters are quite good. Sometimes I felt iffy about the mother, Christiane, but ultimately we can understand and feel for her. While the ones I liked the most were the couple, Alex and Lara, especially Alex.

Good Bye, Lenin! 09
Lara (Chulpan Khamatova)

They make a charming couple in the film, being both smart, young, and, most importantly, likable individuals. It’s a relationship we see when it’s born and that we cheer to flourish.

The acting of the movie is outstanding from basically everyone, but I want to highlight Daniel Brühl, who today is an international, renowned star. He was already a remarkable actor in Good Bye Lenin, and since then, his career only went up.

The cinematography is not among my favorites, but it’s decent and has some satisfactory shots throughout. The thing I liked the most about the cinematography was the use of colors, especially some contrasts, as you can see in the example on the screen.

Like the cinematography, the score is not among those I kept in my heart, but still competent and fitting for each moment of the film, or maybe I’m just too picky with the score.

Good Bye, Lenin! 02
Christiane (Katrin Saß)

It’s the type of movie that makes you think at the same time that make you laugh, and that is something I can really appreciate. Sometimes is important to bring a little lightness to life, even when the theme is serious. 8 Moons.

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