Good Bye, Old!

The sudden shift in the type of movies we have been watching in our class has honestly been refreshing for me. I think it’s nice to be shown a type of movie that is familiar to my taste. Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye, Lenin! showed us elements that are quite similar to the West’s Hollywood. The comedic scenes and transitions reminded me of a lot of films that mainstream media are more familiar with. However, what struck me the most is the film’s take on the historic shift from a past to a new future.

A lot of the films we have been watching in class were glimpses of how European art films shaped the way most modern European films are now today. Yet, in Good Bye, Lenin!, it’s not through the film’s elements that we’re shown a change in something, but rather in the story of the film itself. Through the use of the historical context of Germany, the film showed us a more personal view of such event to a person who has lived their lives as part of the old which, in the film is replaced by a radical new. While Christiane Kerner, a perfect model citizen of the then existing Socialist Unity Party of East Germany, was kept hidden from the massive shift to West Germany’s more capitalistic approach, her son Alex tries his best to shield her away from what he assumed would be a horrific scene for his ailing mother. It is through this fear that I saw a general fear for a change, which of course was something different from what the other characters in the film were experiencing as they immediately welcomed the change in their everyday lives. For me, Alex’s efforts exhibit his extreme fear for losing the traditional life he had before. Despite his constant assurance that all these things were for the sake of his mother, I firmly believe that Alex was just scared to change his life and what he has to leave behind in his past, which coincidentally includes his mother.

The story itself was tragic, however Good Bye, Lenin! shows us a more lighthearted way of understanding something that was very significant to the people of Germany, especially those coming from German Democratic Republic. For me, the use of history in the film is art in itself because it shows us a side of Europe that we will never know. Their sentiments will never reach us as we did not experience this event personally, but the film shows us an easy way to understand the feelings of people like Christiane and Alex Kerner.

I’d like to note that while the film’s story shows us the characters trying to hide the fragments of the new Germany, we can’t deny that the film itself is showcasing elements that were greatly influenced by the mainstream west films. This for me best exemplifies the change of European cinema as coming from the individual minds of great filmmakers, to coming to accept the influence that Hollywood cinema and other mainstream media has on the new films that Europeans are able to produce.

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