Friday, November 30, 2007

Good Bye Lenin!.....of Lenin, Berlin wall & the death of socialism


Well…I don’t really know how to begin….I mean how to describe this film! ....this is not an out & out tragedy…neither a comedy…wiki calls it a tragicomedy & perhaps that is true to some extent. But it is much more than that…it is an honest and intelligent manifestation, or probably a microcosm of that dramatic period of German unification of 1989 in particular and overall restructuring of world order in the early 90’s in general.

I hate to write plot summaries….so let me shamelessly paste one paragraph from wiki…

The film is set in the East Berlin of 1989 . Alexander Kerner's mother, Christiane Kerner, an ardent supporter of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, suffers a heart attack when she sees Alex being arrested in an anti-government demonstration and falls into a coma shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. After eight months she awakes, but is severely weakened both physically and mentally, and doctors say that any shock may cause another, possibly fatal, attack. Alex realises that her discovery of recent events would be too much for her to bear, and so sets out to maintain the illusion that things are as normal in the German Democratic Republic. To this end, he and his family revert the flat to its previous drab decor, dress in their old clothes, and feed the bed-ridden Christiane new, Western produce from old labeled jars. For a time the deception works, but gradually becomes increasingly complicated and elaborate. Despite everything, Christiane occasionally witnesses strange occurrences, such as a gigantic Coca-Cola advertisement banner unfurling on a building outside the apartment. Alexander and a friend with film-making ambitions edit old tapes of news broadcasts and create their own fake special reports to explain them away.

I won’t paste the rest as I don’t want to ruin it for the ones who are planning to watch this movie. But let me tell you that there is another plot interwoven, which is about Alex’s father who allegedly absconded to the West leaving the family behind when they were kids. This plot also grows along with the main story line with timely twists and the keeps the viewers guessing and engrossed.

What makes this movie worth the accolades is the intelligence with which the director has played with the emotions of the viewers. We, as audiences are never trapped in one monotonous state of mind. It cleverly brings in humorous moments that ridicule the irony of the politics and society in general. But at the very next moment it fills the hearts with empathy at the plights of the family and the innocent efforts of Alexander to ameliorate the losses. Director Wolfgang Becker and lesser known actors like Daniel Bruhl, Kathrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova, Alexander Beyer have done wonders with this movie.

In a broader sense it illustrates the futility of entire socio political melodrama that has been created and nurtured by the mankind over the ages. This is what I like most about German cinema. They are never shy of admitting and discussing certain not so glorious moments of their past. Films like Der Untergang, Das Leben Der Anderen,Das Boot and Sophie Scholl have already proven that point and are known by all. Good Bye Lenin is relatively unknown compared to these ones, but I can assure you that this one is no less in warming hearts, perplexing neurons and broadening horizons.

5 comments:

Bhaskar Sarma said...

Nice movie.....we could have so many set in Indian situations, if only Bollywood could look beyond the obvious.

quetzalcoatl said...

even hollywood was never that frank!!!

Vnay said...

interesting review. haven't heard (or seen) much of German cinema.
seems i am missing something good in life.

anubhav said...

Nice review,hope i get to see it. Das Boot and Sophie Scholl must be added to the best of german cinema i guess,more specifically the 'taintedn past category' you mentioned.

quetzalcoatl said...

added ur the ones u recommended..:D