Monday, August 25, 2014

Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

Today's film is Good Bye Lenin!  A long time ago, Germany was split into two different countries: East Germany and West Germany.  East Germany was communist while West Germany was not.  In this film, Alex lives with his family in East Germany.  His dad runs off to the West, and his mother breaks down.  We learn throughout the film that Alex's mother really cannot take any kind of shock.

Eventually, his mom leaves the hospital and returns to take care of Alex and his older sister.  Fast forward several years later, and people are protesting the regime more and more.  Alex's mom witnesses him being arrested during a protest, and collapses due to a heart attack.  She stays in a coma for 8 months.  During this time, Alex forms a relationship with a cute nurse, while the two sides of Germany reunite.  Mom finally wakes up, but the doctors say she cannot take any kind of shock or it may kill her.  Alex wants to bring her home.

The problem is that Mom loved her country, and was very active in the communist community.  If she learned that everything she believed in and worked for is gone,  she would be shocked to death.  So, Alex goes out of his way to pretend like everything is the same.  This gets harder and harder as Western capitalism, think: Coca Cola, invades their precious country.  Alex's friend helps him make fake news reports to "explain away" all this Western influence.

As time goes on, we learn that not only is Alex preserving the old country for his mom, but perhaps he is doing it to instill a sense of nostalgia, like he's remembering the good old days of when his family was all together.  But, perhaps his mom has some secrets of his own.  Alex's girlfriend and sister think he is taking it too far with all this pretending.  But, I see it the same way we tell our children about fairy tales.  It's making a perfect pretend world where everything is safe and nothing has changed.  His mom doesn't have very long time to live, so he's making her last few months comfortable.  He wanted her to die happy.  If she would have lived for several more years, then he would have had to explain that their country had reunited and that communism had failed.  However, he does find his dad because she wanted to see him one last time.  After she died, they put her ashes in a firework and shot it into the sky.

This film shows how an adult child will go out of their way to make sure their parent is safe and happy in their final moments.  Even though we may not understand or agree with how they do it, we know that his mom died where she was happy.  I will give this film an 8/10.


  1. I liked this film quite a bit. It had a lot more humor in it that I was expecting.

    1. I didn't know what to expect, but I liked it.

  2. You have a good point and it is a very compassionate film. I think however that the comedy in this film suffered from its need to make a political statement and it was not as fun as it could have been. I was frankly a bit disappointed when I saw it.