Socialist Worker

Two systems thrown into question

by Julie Bundy
Issue No. 1861

Good Bye Lenin!
Director: Wolfgang Becker

NICE FILM - shame about the title. It is set in East Berlin against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the system established by Stalin. The film follows the story of teenage Alex, his sister Ariane and mother Christiane, who has brought up her children alone after her husband's defection to the West.

The mother falls into an eight- month coma. When she awakes life in the East has been transformed. Alex is convinced that she must be protected from the truth, terrified that the shock could kill her. His elaborate cover-up becomes a full-scale reversal of the political events of the previous year. He manages to recreate the world they have left behind within the confines of their small flat.

The 'benefits of the West' are shown to fall short of expectations. Alex moves from being a TV repair man to a satellite TV salesman. His sister Ariane now works in a Burger King. An old man wanders around the discarded items chucked out of ugly old concrete blocks in preference to high-tech stuff bought on credit from the West. He is heard repeatedly muttering, 'We've been sold down the river.'

As life gets more complicated the outside world begins to encroach upon the sick mother. Implausible as this may sound, this film manages to avoid slapstick and becomes almost a critique of contemporary capitalism. I doubt we would have seen such an examination of either system 13 years ago.

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Sat 26 Jul 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1861
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