The Cat out of the Bag

With its expeditious time-lapses and speedy plot progression, Goodbye Lenin! showcases how a world can change in just one snap of a finger. Satirical of the ever so reserved communist state and its anguished sentimentality to what has been established for the past years, the film portrays both a dramaturgical and a historical account of what the republican democrats experienced after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. This film revolves around a conservative loyalist mother, Christiane, who falls into a coma and wakes up not knowing what the hell happened. Her son, Alex,  driving the plot action, did all that he can for her to not find out the truth.

On a micro perspective, this film paints a picture of a boy’s love for his mother and on a macro-level, these characters can represent a man’s love for his nation. In this film, one would see how far people can go to enact the necessary evils just to maintain a good, precious and preserved state of what and whom they love. Moreover, it celebrates the Machiavellian ideal that the ends justify the means, no matter how bad the process is.

Scenes show an overtone of the hailed “fall of communism”, welcoming the arrival of capitalism that brought good to East Germany. The characters treasured their new conveniences and freedom of expression but also wallowed away in their sentimentality of the past.

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 18.57.19.png Concretely shown in the renovation of Alex’s apartment that used to be a very hidebound, bland living space with dusty curtains to a retro finish with a sun tanning machine with his sister (turned from a scholar to a burger king employee) playing kinky Indian role play with her boyfriend. The movie does shed light on the complex (and sudden) transformation of German life that resulted from the fall of the Wall.

A significant scene for me was when the mother, Christiane accidentally glimpses a giant billboard for Coca-Cola and the whole audience would think the whole microcosm game was over but then Alex, proving himself to be a nuanced neurotic, control freak, loyalist, films his own phoney report, claiming that Coca-Cola is in fact a GDR invention and the East has already won its patent dispute with the deceitful west. With his work buddy who is into film editing, they join forces in doctoring random clips of the Wall’s collapse. Without a clue, Alex has provoked almost every agency of a commun

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ist state, distorting the the news media, forcing people to remain in the same manner as they were before the wall collapsed, contradicting against their real natures and principles, bribing and blackmailing people to keep their shit for the sake of his mother’s health.. Sometimes in the movie, one might wonder if Alex was doing all these just for his mother or did he actually evolve into a loyalist as well, not because he believed in the regime but he also had a hard time adapting to the new. He loved how simple the way things were before just like his mother. But at the end of the film, he, along with his mother accepted the fact that nothing ever remains the same.

Goodbye Lenin! is compelling and enjoyable, as Alex goes through challenge by challenge in trying not to let the cat out of the bag.  This film can be considered a slapstick comedy, founded on fraud and lies: just like the old conservative regime with lots of manipulation for the “good” of the people. This film may bring out a variety of responses from the audiences- be it a pitiful retort for the loyalists who will never accept change or a slipshod laugh with the reality that capitalism has really taken over the world. One could get a kick out of Goodbye Lenin! because it is really worth your watch.

 

-161997-

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