Saturday 11 October 2008

Goodbye Lenin

Goodbye Lenin is Wolfgang Becker's 2003 charming tragi-comedy set in the former East Germany. It concerns a young man's increasingly ingenious attempts to conceal the renunification of East and West Germany from his ailing mother.

The film begins in East Berlin during the Cold War, where Christine Kerner (Katrin Saß), a mother with two children finds herself alone after her husband defects to the West. As a result she becomes a loyal card carrying member of the socialist party. When she sees her son Alex played by Daniel Brühl in an anti-government protest she suffers a major heart attack which puts her in a coma. By the time she emerges from the coma, unknown to her, East and West Germany have reunited. Alex is warned by Christine's doctor that any shock could kill his mother. So to save his beloved mother Alex is forced to devise schemes to convince her that East Germany is very much alive and well.

There are wonderful scenes where Alex and his friends scour shops looking for food stuffs that were popular in the old days but are now no longer available. He even goes as far as to fake TV broadcasts to maintain the illusion where actual scenes of East Germans flooding in to the West is re-interpreted as West Germans seeking refuge in the East.

Yann Tiersen's charming, minimalist score for Goodbye Lenin is a delight. With a nod towards Michael Nyman, Tiersen beautifully conveys the complex emotions in the film without resorting to crass mickey-mousing of the on screen action. The emotionally charged cues stay with you long after the house lights have gone up. Just try to listen to the Summer 78 cue without a tear forming in your eye.

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