• James Rutherford

‘Good Bye Lenin!’: An Utterly Charming Depiction of East Germany after the Fall of the Berlin Wall


Movie poster for the German film Good Bye Lenin! starring Daniel Brühl

“Good Bye Lenin!” (2003) is a charming and remarkably inventive German-language serio-comedy starring Daniel Brühl as Alex, an East German youth who in the summer of 1990, is forced to hide the fall of the Berlin Wall from his ailing mother Christiane (Katrin Sass).


After suffering a debilitating heart attack and falling into a coma for 8 months, Christiane awakens in a fragile state that doctors warn must not be subjected to undue stress. Unbeknownst to Christiane, Communism and the East German Republic have collapsed in the intervening months, and Alex is subsequently forced to hide this momentous political and cultural shift from her at all costs. What ensues is a highly amusing escapade, as Alex enlists his siblings and friends to help manufacture a grand charade, fabricating the continued endurance of the GDR for the sake of his mother’s well-being.


Directed by German filmmaker Bernd Lichtenberg, “Good Bye Lenin!” is a real treat—a fresh and imaginative tale of well-intentioned duplicity that paints an insightful glimpse into the historical reunification of Germany. A young Brühl shines brightly in his earnest and wryly comical role, helping to deliver a touching, droll and wonderfully unconventional creation to the screen—one of the very best foreign language films of the entire decade.

 

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