Good bye, Lenin (2003)

The film is set in the East Berlin of 1989 to 1990. The premise of the film is that Alexander Kerner's mother, Christiane Kerner, an ardent supporter of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, falls into a coma shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, following a heart attack she suffered when she saw Alex being arrested in an anti-government demonstration. After eight months she comes out of the coma, but is very weak both physically and mentally, and doctors say that any shock may cause another attack.

Contact person:

Mag. Christoph Hofrichter

The film depicts the attempt by her family, who think that the events of the fall of the wall would be too much for her to bear, to maintain the illusion that things are as normal in the GDR. To this end, they revert the flat to its previous drab communist-era decor, dress in their old clothes, and find old labelled food jars and place western products in them. Since Christiane is bedridden, the deception works for a while, but becomes increasingly complicated and elaborate. Despite everything, Christiane occasionally witnesses strange occurrences, such as a gigantic Coca-Cola advertisement banner unfurling on a building outside her apartment. Alexander and a friend with film-making ambitions edit old tapes of news broadcasts and create their own fake special reports to explain away some of the strange occurrences.

In one surreal scene, Christiane wanders outside the flat while Alex is asleep, and sees all her neighbours' old furniture piled up in the street for garbage collection, a car dealer selling BMWs instead of Trabants. Then, a huge military helicopter flies past carrying the upper half of an enormous statue of Lenin, which at an angle appears to be offering Christiane his hand. Alex and his sister find her and take her back to the flat. Alex and his friend create a fake special report stating that East Germany is accepting refugees from the West.

A subplot involves the earlier defection to the West of Alexander's father when Alexander was a child, an event which apparently drove his mother temporarily insane, and which prompted her ardent support of the party. Later it is revealed that the defection was planned by them both, but she bailed out to protect her children. Alexander's sister Ariane, now working in a Burger King drive-through, one day sees her father with a new family. Christiane later admits the deception and Alexander goes to find his father, partly for himself and his sister, and partly to honour Christiane's dying wish that she see him one last time. On the way, Alex meets a taxi driver who looks just like his childhood hero, Sigmund Jähn, the first German in space.

Christiane relapses, and is once again taken to the hospital. Under pressure to reveal the truth about the fall of the East, Alexander creates one final fake film segment. Alexander convinces the taxi driver to pose as Sigmund Jähn, who in the the segment becomes the new leader of East Germany, and gives a speech promising to make a better future by opening the borders to the West. Christiane is very impressed by the "broadcast," but in fact already knows the truth, as Alexander's girlfriend revealed everything when Alexander was not around. The tables are turned completely, and it is Alex who is being protected from reality. Christiane dies soon afterwards, and Alex never knows that she did, in the end, know the truth.

Good bye, Lenin: mehr als nur ein Rückblick auf die DDR

Good bye, Lenin