Goodbye Lenin is a masterful piece of german tragi-comic cinema starring Daniel Bruhl as a social critical teenager and a loving son
We are in eastern Germany from 1989 til the reunification in 1990 and we are following a young boy Alex, who lives with his mother Christiane and his mother Ariane. Christiane is a strong supporter of the Socialist party and she has a close to fatal heart attack when she sees her son being arrested for disobeying the state. When she wakes up the Wall has fallen and capitalism are flowing into the east. The doctors inform Alex that his mother will not survive another shock so he starts a huge concept of trying to make his mother happy and believe that her beloved DDR still exists.
Daniel Bruhl is probably most known for his role as Helmut Zemo in Captain America: Civil War, but here he is the young teenager Alex Kerner. He is a curious character who is open for change in the communist East Germany and when the Wall falls he starts working for a West German cable company where he finds a friend that is an amateur movie maker. So together they start making fake news casts for him to show to his mother.
I guess that is enough for the story part and let’s start looking at the technical parts of Goodbye Lenin. Let’s start with the music. It is composed by the brilliant Yann Tiersen, the same man who did the score for Amelie from Montmatre(2001) and here he outdone himself. Tiersen is an amazing piano player and a fantastic scorewriter. Really one of the best french composers out there.
The movie is being directed by Wolfgang Becker and he managed to capture a movie that is funny, serious, gasping and that makes you stop and think about things, at the same time. It is a movie that criticizes the social aspect of the german reunification, but it is also a sweet story about a boy who feels terrible and wants his mother to be happy. Goodbye Lenin is essentially a comedic movie that borders on satire. But even for non Germans it is a great film. The scene where Christiane gets up and looks out the window and sees Coca Cola and a statue of Lenin being flown away while it points at her will make anyone laugh.
The cinematography and mise-en-scene is very well done, and when Alex scheme starts and he runs around trying to find old DDR furniture and food to please his mother shows that they have managed to create sets that really look like 1988.
It is a movie that can appeal to anyone, no matter what kind of knowledge and love you have of pictures you can find something to love about Goodbye Lenin. Either the humorous plot. charming characters or social criticism. Goodbye Lenin manages to capture a piece of german movie history that few others can match, and it is quite soothing to look and listen too. It is a movie about the fall of ideologies.
There are a lot of great film industries around the world and Germany manages to make plenty of good films. GOodbye Lenin may be the most known film from Germany these past years, but it is also one of the best social satire films made to date. Yann Tiersens great score and Bruhls spectacular acting makes this into a definite “Must See” movie.