Sunday, February 11, 2007

GOODBYE LENIN!



Movie of the week:

GOODBYE LENIN!

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, not everybody was happy about it. Sure, lots of people who were sick and tired of looking over their shoulders, and living in a repressed police state. But there were people who supported the communist regime, people who were members of the communist party, in good standing. Promises were made, expectations were expected. These people were suddenly standing around saying, "Now, what?"

This is the basis for a totally original comedy set in East Germany (not generally known as a hotbed for comedy). Christiane is a mother living in East Germany in 1989 (you can probably already guess where this is going). She is an avid supporter of the Communist regime. She doesn’t do it out of fear. She’s not corrupt. It’s not for money or for prestige or for privileged treatment. She supports the government because she believes in the ideal of communism. She supports it because this is her country, and all is right with it, and why don’t we all just give it a chance to make it work. She defends communism the same way that Americans support and defend democracy, even though we live in an imperfect realization of it.

Christiane has a son, a good boy. He loves his mother and wants her to be proud of him, but – he has a girlfriend, and she is a freedom-fighter. One day she spies her son taking part in an anti-government rally (such things were common right near the end). So great is her shock that she suffers a heart attack and goes into a coma (did I mention that this was a comedy?). When she comes to 8 months later, the wall has come down and communism is no more.

However …….

The doctors tell the son that his mother’s heart cannot withstand another shock and that he should not excite her. He decides not to tell his mother about the political turn of events. The lengths that he goes through to preserve the appearance that nothing has changed provides most of the hilarious moments in the film. How long can he keep up appearances with McDonalds and Coca-Cola billboards springing up all around? I mean, she does have a television.

The film is funny and heart-warming and thoroughly enjoyable. However, I don’t think it thoroughly depicted the full extent of the culture shock that must have been experienced in the East after the Berlin Wall came down. So – here’s a few examples of stuff they left out.

  1. Increasingly difficult to find Borscht-Cola.
  2. Friendly surveillance cameras no longer follow you around the house, making you feel less secure.
  3. People who “watch” surveillance monitors – suddenly out of work.
  4. Suddenly, the Krumpsturdt-mobile – no longer a status symbol.
  5. Only given one month to come up to speed on current fashions. Besides, what to do with the old lederhosen?
  6. All those new bright colors hurt my eyes.
  7. Can now travel to the West, but have no idea, what-so-ever, where the “good” brew haus's are.
  8. Steroid use for female athletes now frowned upon.
  9. Competition for strudel contest now includes all of West Germany.
  10. What’s this “Oktober-fest” I hear tell about?

In German with various language subtitles.

GOODBYE LENIN!
Enjoy.

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