Response Essay on the Film Goodbye Lenin
It was the year 1989 in East Germany when a young man joined in the protest and got arrested by the police in front of his mother, the following event can only be described as a meaningful journey filled with drama and comedy. The movie was released in 2002 directed by Wolfgang Becker. It is about a young German guy Alex (Daniel Brühl) creating an elaborate scheme in order to keep his mother in good health after being in coma for nine months. Being a socialist, Christiane (Katrin Sass) generally supports the German Democratic Republic and the fall of the Berlin wall can prove to be a shocking news for Christiane. However, Alex (Christiane's son) is doing his best to preserve the GDR atmosphere inside their apartment to conceal the reality outside of their home. It is long before Alex's mother not found the truth and Alex must do what it takes to keep the secret away from his mother.
The film embodies a clever mix of lies, propaganda and self-deception. It is fascinating to see that the movie was able to balance the elements of strong themes, good performance and a dash of history. The overall aesthetics of the film can be attributed by the excellent use of camera work and ingenious cinematography skills that moved the narratives of the film forward. It could have done a little more tweaking with the script for example, when Alex learned that his mother is in coma from which recovery may not be possible anymore. The scene could have been an effective moment to deliver a more dramatic characteristically of the movie. However, the script was not able to provide a strong emotional blow, which could have actually pulled the audience deeper into the emotional side of the story. The editing could have also made a few improvements. There were scenes in the movie they could have been discarded. One example is the one minute clip of consumerism analogy, which is already all over the place in the backdrop and the one minute clip could have been used for a more compelling scene. Although, there were a few weak areas in editing and script it still makes a good film that deserves recognition locally and internationally.
On the cinematography side of the film, Becker together with cinematographer Martin Kukula did a great job with the camera work. The quirky yet distinctive cinematic style of Becker delivered the impression of a country in transition to change at a breakneck pace using fast-motion shots. The occasional use of grainy amateur shots effectively depicts the realistic components of the film often employed by Becker in presenting scenes where Alex recreates the TV shows his mother used to watch. The same technique was used in scenes of Alex in his childhood to represent his fascination with space travel and to recall the happy moments of his family at the start of the movie. This technique gave the audience a feel of reality and of the character's recollection of their memoirs paired with touching musical scores.
The film begins with introductory shots and voice-over narration of Alex, which is common in may German films. It lends the movie with documentary style combined with footages that resembles documentary shots. This approach can be seen in clips where alex and his friend is recreating a false reality for his mother. One of the most memorable parts of the fish is the removal of Lenin's statue, which was modeled by Becker from a similar 1960 film La Dolce Vita where Christ's statue is flown above Rome. OSS or over-the-shoulder shot were used in this particular scene giving the audience a perspective view from behind Christiane while Lenin's statues is being flown. Instances of tracking shots in a narrow parallel movement were observed in the film in many occasions. One example is the scene where Alex is scanning through shelves after shelves in the supermarket looking for the extinct pickle variety that his mother is craving for. Overall the film did an outstanding job in portraying humor amidst tragedy and drama, a combination that is often messed up in some films.
Arndt, S. (Producer), & Becker, W. (Director). (2003). Good Bye, Lenin!. [Motion Picture]. Germany: X-Filme Creative Pool.
Leochaperonista (2011, December 28). Goodbye Lenin! [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOokz3sl25U