good bye, lenin!

Good bye Lenin! by Wolfgang Becker captures the struggle of a young man named Alex to keep his mother Christiane healthy and alive by recreating the world as she knew it before she went into a coma. Christiane is a loyal socialist from West Germany, and she gets a heart attack and eventually falls into a coma when she saw Alex protesting against the regime. Shortly after this incident, the Berlin Wall falls, the GDR collapses, and Germany is reunited. Knowing full well that this would be a shock and a heartbreak to Christiane who had just awoken from a coma, Alex and his sister Ariane exert extreme efforts to rebuild the old Germany for their mother.

This, to me, is the most enjoyable film we have watched so far in class. Not only is it easy to understand, but it’s also incredibly comedic and subtly but smartly educational (for people like me, at least, who don’t know much about the history of Germany). What kept me hooked throughout the film was its unique storyline; I don’t think I’ve come across a movie with a plot like this one yet. It keeps you enticed because you want to know how much further the children are going just to protect their mother, and also if their mother is ever going to find out about the truth.

To me, the film was all about love and the means that you would go to just to protect the ones you love, whether it be a person or a country. Christiane loved her country so much that she chose its beliefs and ideals over her husband, resulting to her family being separated. Meanwhile, Alex loved his mother to the point that he went through extreme measures to keep her happy and healthy, even if it meant lying to her about the world she lived in and even getting other people to lie to her as well. The love these characters have and give is truly noble, but what made it somewhat questionable was its moral and ethical implication. I understand that Alex just wanted to make sure that he is able to keep Christiane from possible triggers to another heart attack, but how much more lies did he think was acceptable to keep up this charade? How many people would he have to involve to make sure his mother doesn’t get suspicious? Was he just planning on keeping her in her room the whole time? Initially, I was fine with him covering up what happened while Christiane was in a coma, but I was hoping he would gradually break the news to her so she could start adjusting and live normally again. But this dilemma kept the plot more and more interesting, so I slightly kind of wanted him to keep going. Eventually, Christiane finds out the truth because of Lara, Alex’ girlfriend, but Christiane chooses to go along with Alex’ charade. This, I believe, is Christiane’s way of showing appreciation to Alex. Although I’m sure it was painful finding out the truth about the country she ever so loved, she understood why Alex did what he did, and it took that much love for Christiane not to get angry at Alex and let herself die with Alex convinced that she never found out, passing away happily.

Overall, the movie was beautiful and delightful for being able to encapsulate the themes it had in such a unique, witty, and understandable way. It’s a refreshing movie to watch after all those difficult films we previously saw, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself searching for this movie and watching it again.

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