Film: wolfgang becker, goodbye lenin (2003)

Goodbye Lenin Introduction Wolfgang Becker’s 2003 German movie Goodbye Lenin is a poignant story of love between a son and his mother set in the backdrop of the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989. The story revolves around a working class woman who has been abandoned by her husband and is left to fend for herself and her son, Alex and daughter, Ariane.
The film portrayed the whirlpool of rallies against the Stalin regime in which Alex was caught, and watching him getting arrested by the police his mother collapsed from a near fatal heart attack and went into coma. After her recovery, Alex was desperate to hide the news of the demise of GDR to save her from another heart attack. What follows were hilarious scenes in which Alex reconstructs the old GDR in her bedroom with products from old GDR and requesting his friends to playact for her (“ Goodbye Lenin”).
The history of GDR is filled with illusion and realism, and the cultural memory lives on to be reformed by the complexities of the unification course. In respect to such transition period, Becker’s movie has an ideal theme. The period of the movie belongs to the era which was like no man’s land between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the sealing of unification. This proved to be the supreme platform for substitute of the real or surreal history to be enacted. The fall of GDR led to transformation of identity, with the old and new identities being antagonists to each other. This abject truth compels the the protagonist Alex to attempt to create a mythical sociocultural environment for his bedridden mother. Within the framework of fiction rather than a documentary, Becker managed to maintain fantasy as central element with Alex showing newsreel items with falsified footage. The movie generates humor in a sad way, and historical perspectives. Unlike most of the German movies that hesitate to treat the fall of the Berlin Wall, this movie was far more convincing in spite of showing history in the realms of fantasy.
The nuances in the movie depicted how improvement in consumer goods and political liberation together can destroy state services. For instance, Ariane had to sacrifice her college education for acquiring a job at Burger King. The longing for the advantages of the old Germany has resulted in the movie’s immense popularity. One of the most important elements in the movie is that Alex got emotionally entangled in his own creation. He began to admit that the GDR he has created is the one he desires for and it is not a transformed image of the GDR he has in his memory.
This movie has borne all the complexities of Germany’s identity crisis. As soon as the ecstasy of the fall of the Wall was over, there was a virtual longing for the return of the Wall. The movie expresses that longing with a historical rather than a psychological turn. Through the movie, viewers have experienced history that never was and history that could have been.
1. “ Goodbye Lenin” (movie), directed by Wolfgang Becker, 2003