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Braiding personal with political

Cassie Pence

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I was only 12. Although the fall could be described as one of the 20th century’s most climatic historic events, the magnitude of the crash passed me by.”Goodbye, Lenin!” tells the story of the unification of Germany from the intimate perspective of a son and his mother living in the East. The characters are touching, especially the filial devotion. The film delicately mixes suffering and happiness, rollercoasting your emotions during the entire cinematic experience. Love is abound in the film, but what I found most interesting is the humorous and unique political commentary about the differences between socialism and capitalism. When Alex’s (Daniel Bruhl) socialist-toting mother, Christiane (Katrin Sass), finally awakes from a coma, sleeping through the destruction of the wall and the West’s consumer invasion – gigantic Coca-Cola banners and supermarkets – Alex relentlessly digs a ditch of lies to ruse his mother into believing absolutely nothing has changed, and most importantly her Socialist party did not fall. The boy’s pursuit leads him to create an East that lives up to his mother’s idealism and his own. He discovers nostalgia and a longing for the slower-paced Germany he once knew and once protested against.The comedy plays out in the extent Alex goes to trick his mother into ignorant bliss. Alex switches western jellies into eastern jars, containers he dredged up from garbage containers. He even tapes bogus newscasts where the anchor, while showing clips of East and West residents ripping the wall to pieces, reports that western citizens are flooding into the East to escape their lives of lofty capitalism to live more fulfilling, socialist lives.

The writing is impeccable; its circular storyline leaves no loose ends, but the irony and symbolism showered throughout leaves the viewer with endless discussion possibilities afterward.Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555 XT. 618, or at cpence@vaildaily.com


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