Simply put, Good Bye, Lenin! was an easy-to-watch film, and for the first time in this class, something I would choose to re-watch over again. There was nothing particularly difficult about the film, as compared to our other films discussed in the class (*ahem* Persona) yet, Good Bye, Lenin! was a discreetly socially conscious film that was incredibly relevant to society. Despite the lack of a seemingly “difficult or bothering” plot, it still managed to be very successful due to its entertaining presentation of a harmonious balance between history, comedy, and familial ties.
Discussing this film’s historical context is a bit difficult for me, as I am not so well-informed on the happenings of socialism in East Germany, but anyone can tell that this movie was about a people’s love for their country. It’s obvious that Christiane was very dedicated to her country, but we can also see this same love in the actions of the family’s neighbors. These people, mostly older people who had lived most of their lives as socialists, seem to have enjoyed playing pretend for Christiane. You could almost see how they felt a bit sentimental over their times before the revolution. After doing some reading, I became familiar with a German term, ostalgie, which encapsulate the common theme of the movie as “nostalgia for a communist past”. Even Alex can be said to be a little nostalgic, as he really put a lot of effort onto recreating a communist life for his mother again.
However, Alex’s actions also show another great theme of the movie, of going to great lengths to protect your family. Alex literally changed the world for his mother, Christiane, even to the cost of his own happiness and comfort. I think that Alex was doing this all somewhat out of guilt for putting his mother in the hospital in the first place (because Christiane collapsed into a coma after seeing Alex being arrested at a anti-government rally). Because of this guilt, Alex’s efforts to revert his home back into its socialist state comforts not only his mom, but Alex himself. A less obvious act of love in the film is seen in the storyline of Christiane herself. She had given up a potentially more extravagant lifestyle outside East Berlin, as well as risking her relationship with her husband, just to protect her kids. A great contrast with Persona on the portrayal of motherhood.
Good Bye, Lenin! presented many questionable decisions, but overall, was a film about love and life. This film is a great example of how classic, great films don’t always need to be difficult to watch or so complex for the viewer, it can be simple, light, and even funny at times.