Thursday, October 5, 2006

Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Sab, Chulpan Khamatova, Maria Simon

"The German Democratic Republic lives on -- in 79 square meters"

German Film Festival
Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex

Aufweidesen Lenin

It was a good decision to practically camp out at the mall so I could catch two German films in a row. It would have been a pity if I missed watching this film.

It is a deeply poignant tribute of a young man named Alex who protects his fragile mother from knowing the truth. The year is 1989, the setting is the former East Berlin. Alex's mother just woke up from a coma after 8 months. She has partial long and short term memory loss. Being the hard line socialist that she was/is, Alex doesn't think she will be able to handle the events which led to the fall of the Berlin wall and the eventual reunification of the city. The invasion of capitalism, the advent of unemployment and every little problem that arose after the fall of communism. So he turns her bedroom into a shrine, peppering it with icons of the past era. He feeds her food items no longer available in post Communist Berlin. He rummages all over town for empty jars of the brands which went obsolete since the fall of Communism. Taking pains to ensure she never finds out the numerous changes of present day Berlin.

This is a funny, sad, quirky film. Well in fact it deals with various emotions. In some ways, Alex presents us with a socialist world that he wishes still existed. He seems to be dealing and delving in the past most of the time. His concept of a 'perfect' socialist world in some ways makes him block out the very different existence that the whole Eastern part of the city has been sucked into quite harshly. I found Alex to be a very conflicted person although it seems like he is merely being practical for his mother's sake. Yet he is also quite mature for a young man and he handled everything quite well.

Good bye Lenin is a good showcase of the fall of Communism in Germany. An event which triggered the rest of Europe to jump off the Communist bandwagon. But more importantly it is a beautiful tale of a son's undying love for his mother. A mother who survived against all odds to raise her children single handedly and give them a good life. With a premise like that you can't go wrong, at all. Factor in really pertinent historical events like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and you have one good social commentary on the pitfalls of coping with drastic life altering changes.
Be it a change in ideology or simply a change in one's lifestyle.

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