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"The GDR survives - on 79 square meters!"
Shortly before the fall of the Berlin wall, the young East German Alexander Kerner's dedicated Communist mother sees her son in an anti-government demonstration and falls into a coma. When she awakens six months later, the doctors tell Alexander that his mother can not abide a new shock. Alexander therefore orchestrates an elaborate ruse, complete with fake television programs, to keep his bed-ridden mother from finding out that the GDR is gone.
German bittersweet comedy from 2003, with a lot of subtle humor, playing on the feeling of shell-shock many East Germans felt upon being catapulted into the Capitalist world and the almost overnight disappearance of their country. Many of the visual clues might be easy to miss for people not familiar with the common cliches about the GDR (of which many were in fact Truth in Television).
Good Bye, Lenin! provides examples of:
- The Alleged Car: The family's acquisition of a Trabant after "just" 3 years' wait- a sky-blue wagon, no less- is a plot point.
- Alternate History: An elaborate alternate history where East Germany ends up dominant over West Germany is created to hide the truth.
- Commie Land: Or rather, the transition from this.
- The Driver: The cab driver who may or may not have been Sigmund Jähn.
- Fawlty Towers Plot: "Don't mention the Wall!"
- The Great Politics Mess-Up
- German Humor: Lots of it in the narration, not all picked up by the subtitles.
- It's All Junk: Played with. The old, East German furniture that they threw out turns out to be the hiding place of their life savings. Later, the money is worthless because the family missed the cut-off to exchange them for West German Marks.
- Let Them Die Happy: Sort of (but not exactly in the way Alexander intends).
- Locked Out of the Loop: The entire plot is based on locking Alex' mother out of the loop. Later, it's Alex that has to be locked out of the loop, and slightly before that we discover that Alex and his sister were locked out of the loop for over a decade by their mother.
- Maintain the Lie
- Outdated Outfit: Played with. To keep the ruse going, it is required for any guests to take off their Capitalist Germany clothes and replace them with Communist Germany Outdated Outfits.
- Present Day Past: Some of the western brand products are in current rather than circa-1990 packaging.
- Product Placement: Essential to the story; particularly well-handled when the big red banner being lowered on the building across Karl-Marx-Allee from mom's bedroom window turns out to be a Coca-Cola ad.
- Shout-Out: A subtle but important anachronism: Alex's partner-in-fake-newscasts Denis Domaschke is seen several times wearing a T-shirt from The Matrix, another movie about an artificial re-creation of a real world that no longer exists.
- It's only anachronistic in the final cut of the movie: a deleted scene expains that Denis has an idea for a film that is essentially exactly the same as The Matrix, which is why he's wearing that shirt.
- Title Drop: Of the rare visual kind in the mentioned statue scene.
- Why We're Bummed Communism Fell: And how it affected some people more than others- TV repairman Alex fairly quickly finds a better job as a satellite dish installer while his sister, finding her pursuit of a degree in Marxist-Leninist economics suddenly obsolete, winds up working at Burger King and several neighbors in their 50s are unemployed with no prospects.