Goodbye Lenin film review
A critical review of the German film Goodbye Lenin with a focus on the theme of truth and lies in the film
The fine line between truth and lies
The German film Goodbye Lenin, directed by Wolfgang Becker, depicts the transformation of East Germany from a communist to capitalist regime. The film focuses on the Kerner family; two siblings in Alex and Ariane and their mother, apparently a devout socialist, Christiane. As the triumphant fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent German reunification end the communist East German regime, Christiane falls into a coma and is completely unaware that her beloved GDR regime has fallen. Her son Alex, tasked with protecting his mother from any excitement, must do all he can to recreate the GDR for his mother.
The theme of lies is prevalent throughout the film, simply through Alex's creation of a web of lies through which he succeeds in convincing his mother nothing has changed in the GDR. Yet on another level the director reflects the lies of the GDR regime in two distinct ways. Alex's illusion of the GDR is built upon lies and only succeeds through lies, thus mirroring the GDR regime in that the system was built on a foundation of lies which were translated to the East German people who are represented in this instance by Christiane, the devout socialist.
What is more, Christiane is cleverly perceived as symbolising socialism in the film, notably as she wears a red dress (red being the colour of communism) and she falls into a coma as the GDR is also growing ever weaker. The presentation of the lies of the GDR government are also displayed through this symbol, as it is revealed Christiane is not the devoted socialist she appears. The truth is Christiane's love and support of socialism is a lie, which therefore portrays the GDR as a corrupt and untruthful system.
The film even concludes with this theme, as Alex believes he has successfully concealed the truth from his mother, when she actually learns of the fall of the wall before her death. Whilst Becker clearly condemns the lying and corrupt nature of the GDR regime it seems Alex's happiness that he has kept the GDR alive until his mother's death overrides the fact that this is in fact a lie. Becker may here be suggesting lying may, in certain circumstances, be the favourable option, should it allow someone to live happily and contentedly.