Review on Good Bye, Lenin!

What can be said to be on the opposite side of the spectrum placed vis-a-vis to The Edukators is Good Bye, Lenin! Both films present their own take on the historic division that was caused by the Berlin Wall back in the 1990s. The difference with Good Bye, Lenin! is that it tackles the ideological division a bit closer compared to The Edukators.

In the film, we are immediately introduced to Alex (who is also portrayed by Daniel Brühl) whose family is found on the Eastern side of the German divide. What is established in the earlier portions of the film is the lifestyle their family has given the socialist nature of their government. From their external roles, down to the kind of food they eat, Alex and his family are truly living the socialist life. All of their clothes are hand-me-downs and the instant food they have is only one single brand that all of their comrades have. Immediately after this is established, the stability of their family is rocked, both in a familial sense and in a societal sense. First, their mother suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. Soon right after, the Berlin Wall was declared to be torn down in order finally merge the two separate sides of Germany.

One would expect the film to take a darker turn given the way events played out but instead it surprises the viewers and comically elaborates on all the changes that occurred almost overnight. The once bright future which both Alex and his sister possessed had been tossed aside given their desire to become a part of the alluring capitalist system. His sister, Ariane, drops her pursuit for a college degree, and begins to work at a Burger King that seems to have magically popped out of nowhere. For Alex, he starts working at a company that sells and installs satellite dishes. All seems to be well for the meantime up until the point that their mother reawakens to a Germany she no longer knows.

Mainly through the efforts of Alex, he and his sister attempt to reenact the normalcy of life they had in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell. One can argue that it was foolish of them not to break the news to their mother rather than create a false world but one cannot disagree that this was one of the elements that worked well in the film. Given the lighthearted nature that the film undertook in tackling the ideological difference of East and West, it was unsurprising to see that Alex and his sister did the most outrageous things to convince their mother that East Germany still stood. The ridiculousness of it all gives way to the endearing love they possess for their mother.

The inevitability of the claws of capitalism intruding into the safe haven of Alex’s family finally came in the form of a Coca-Cola ad. What sealed the deal after this was how the one time that their mother left their apartment was also the same time a helicopter was carrying a beheaded Lenin.

All in all, Good Bye, Lenin! was a lighthearted film that took the serious affair of varying ideologies and made it more personal through the perspective of a family caught in the middle of such a great change.

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