Good Bye, Lenin!

21 August, 2004 at 20:50 Leave a comment

Just watched this really sweet and intriguing German movie – Good Bye, Lenin! The commentary on Berardinelli’s film review is quite interesting and it reflects my feelings and observations on the movie quite uncannily similarly. And as always (yeah yeah), I have to say that I had a similar idea sometime before. Should dig it. Anyway here is what I/Berardinelli think – [Good Bye, Lenin]
“…offers the touching story of a devoted son’s sacrifice for his mother, albeit with a couple of inventive twists. The story confronts the perversion of perception and the manipulation of reality. And, as if that isn’t heady enough material, it tackles the confusing national identity crisis suffered by Germans when the Berlin Wall came down. Like twins reunited after a long separation, there was an awkward re-acclimation process that few films are interested in exploring. (Perhaps it takes a German filmmaker to do the issue justice, or perhaps to even recognize it at all)…”
“…Christiane has a weak heart and her doctor warns that any shock could kill her. Alex decides that he has to hide the fall of the Wall from his mother, so he concocts a fake world in which Hoenicker is still in power and socialism remains potent. With the help of a would-be filmmaker friend, Denis (Florian Lukas), he creates mock newscasts. The deeper Alex gets into his fictional world, the more convinced his girlfriend and sister are that he’s doing the wrong thing, but Alex will not be dissuaded. He believes that his actions are saving his mother…”
“…what Alex does for Christiane is an example of reality manipulation. A character is feeding into Alex’s fantasy world. Of course, one wonders from the beginning whether Christiane suspects her son is up to something, but, since she is weak and bedridden, she has no choice but to trust him. What we have to determine (and our response to it will decide how kindly we think of Alex) is whether or not his actions are betraying her trust. Does she have the right to know, even if it kills her? Oddly enough, this is the same question that The Matrix asks. (I will probably be the only critic who finds a way to compare Good Bye, Lenin! to The Matrix)…”
There are some really nice touches. One is in the trailer when the hanging picture behind the mock newscast comes off the wall but the real nicety is that the anchor wears a blazer but no pants. Very subtle. I can go on and on but I essentially think it is a beautiful film that gives you enough fodder to munch about. Fundamentally, that is what films are supposed to do. Make us think and help us reflect on the state of society and look at the world around us in ways that other people see it and we have not until then. I even watched it in German (without subtitles) as it should be. I do not know the language. It is a complex one I hear. Somehow, I feel that translation lessens the intended impact. Even manual translation is imperfect. Original is original they say. Subtitles also spoil the fun. And moving pictures in my opinion can be understood by anyone – all are emotions you know (again this reminds me of a comment from David Salter). All the same, it is upto you to watch the film (and in whatever language you want). If you do see it, do share your thoughts if possible. Au Revoir.


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August 2004
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