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Goodbye Lenin: A Tragicomedy Set in East Berlin

Question:

Discuss about two FilmsThe Lives of Others and Good Bye Lenin.

The Lives of Others and Good Bye Lenin   

The German filmmakers portrayed the life of the German Democratic Republic by defining the various phases. In defining the life, the date of the political unification is paying most of the attention towards the historic events (Sternlieb 26). The study will portray the life within German Democratic Republic by reviewing two movies. The first movie is Goodbye Lenin, which depicts the portrayal of the different consequences of lives within GDR y presenting the essence of comedy and tragedy. Another movie is The Live’s of Others, which highlights the political scenario of German during 1984. The thesis of the study reflects the lives within GDR portrayed through the perspectives values of the German filmmaker. The thesis also represents the two prominent themes in these descriptions. The first intersecting narratives describe the cinematic representation of the fall of Berlin Wall. Another theme represents the familial deception.

Good Bye Lenin is a German tragedy-comedy movie directed by Wolfgang Becker and starting by Daniel Brühl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova, Maria Simon and Alexander Beyer. The major protagonist, Alexander ‘Alex’ Kerner, narrated this movie. The movie is entirely set up at East Berlin. The main character Alex lives with his sister, Ariane, his mother, Christiane. He is the representatives of a generation that is commonly disenchanted with the GDR. The movie plot hangs upon in the final days before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of German Democratic Republic. As explained by the movie character Christiane’s husband abandoned the family and left. This was the primary reason she became and joined the Socialist Unity Party of Germany but her son Alex joined in an in an anti government demonstration. He was arrested and his mother fell into coma due to the heart attack. She was admitted in a hospital, but she re-waken after the fall of the Berlin wall. As advised by the doctor she is severely weakened and could not possibly take more shock so Alex decided to recreate the exact things that used to happen before German Democratic Republic. The family problem of Keerner symbolises the attempt for the Germany to rebuild the lifestyles during GDR. It is stated that the filmmakers tend to avoid the political era and they do not illustrate the lifestyle in definable manner. However, in such cases, the portrayal of the German lives has become much prominently. The symbolisation used in this film is generating the sense of hope among the citizens of Germany.

 This movie circles around a young German boy who is constantly creating illusions as things were there before the German Democratic Republic. He keeps his premises rooted in the past with a loyal help from his other family members. One of his greatest attempts was to edit the old tapes of East German into new broadcast to recreate the odd events. The film is the combined form of tragedy and comedy blended with the contradictory situations. In one hand, it reflects the sense of disappointments while in the other side; it highlights the scenario of joy and hope.

The Representation of German Lives through Symbolism


As the changes came Alex was forced to steal goods in that turmoil civil disorder which contains German Democratic Republic product that was swept away during that inevitable period. Everything was falling into its own places as Alex wanted but one day suddenly Christiane goes outside only to find the German streets flooded with the native of the West Germany. In addition to this, the Western Lifestyle was appeared as culturally distasteful and vulgar. As the day, gradually progresses Christiane opened up a secret that her husband and Alex’s father fled away because of the Socialist Unity Party. The party was putting hardship on him by the exercise of authority. The whole family was planned to join Alex’s father but the fear of Christiane concurred her that the government might snatch away her children’s if something went wrong. As the scene progresses Christiane’s health again deteriorated and she got admitted to hospital. In the meanwhile, Alex meet with his father, Robert and both came to East Germany to see the Christiane who is battling for her life in hospital. The essence of the “romantic rendezvous” is also presented in this film. Alex during her mother’s final time revels that the political leader of East Germany are collaborating with West Germany and the German Democratic Republic has began. Soon within few days Christiane dies.

In the movie Christiane lifespan outlive the German Democratic Republic. While watching the movie in the theatre people tend to feel nostalgic about their past and their lives revolved in those turmoil days and then finally the German Democratic Republic ear evolves. The movie Good Bye Lenin shows the love of a son to her mother. This movie does not reciprocate a defence to German Democratic Republic bit clearly shows the story of a boy’s lie to her mother pretending to recreate the world that does not exists just to keep her safe. This movie is more of a psychological tragedy-comedy movie that to be a political one (Gallagher 32).

Even though the film provides the clear description of the re-unification of German, it is still criticised for highlighting the negative sides of GDR. The time did not involved so much dark political background as it was mentioned in the film (Stockemer and Greg 113). As the historic events, it was actually illustrating the rebuild of Germany (Coulter 760). The film is generally allowing the viewers to sympathise the socialist mothers. Moreover, the influences of the political parties are also highlighted in some of the plots and scenes (Sack 444). Hence, it can be interpreted that the description of the GDR through the movie is not reached to the expectation level since it highlighted majority of the negative sides of the situations people faced during GDR.


The Lives of Others is a German political drama movie that evolves back in the year 1984, five years before the fall of Berlin Wall which took place in the year 1989, 9 November. The movie take back the viewers to their past and creates a nostalgia (Cooke 301). The theme of fear is specifically portrayed in this movie.  The Lives of Others reminds us of the German Democratic Republic in a very different way for its serious and cutthroat drama as compared to series of other light movies noticeably like Good Bye, Lenin! and Sonnenallee (Lowry 304). The movie begins in the year 1984 when Stasi (Ministry for State Security) Hauptmann Gred Wiesler accepts an assignment to spy on a playwright Georg Dreyman.  Georg Dreyman has a history to escape state scrutiny for his views upon communism. In a very short period Hauptmann Gred Wiesler used few of some technologies and bugged the apartment of Georg Dreyman and in due course of time he learned that the real reason for his spying was Minister Bruno Hempf’s lust for Georg Dreyman’s partner Christa Maria and believes that Georg Dreyman is a rival to him.  

Cinematic Recreation of the Fall of Berlin Wall

The historical film The Lives of Others includes the critical and commercial appeal. It has been specified that the movie depict the reawakening interests in German Democratic Republic. Hauptmann Gred Wiesler was already sympathetic to Georg Dreyman learned about the planning of publishing the suicide article but still does not alert anyone.  In fact, the clothes of the citizens were quite dull and grey. The oppressive behaviour of the people was shown while purchasing the products in the market. In coming few days, the article was published. Stasi hot a copy of that article but still could not link to any of the typewriter that was registered with German Democratic Republic.

Some of the panel members have presented their thoughts by stating that the atmosphere of the movie is generally based on the time and place. However, the film has captured the political climate of GDR. Fear is the major theme presented in this film (Andrews 43). It is noted that each of the citizens have faced some kinds of fears due to the Stasi and GDR. They knew that their lives can be altered if the rules of the system were eliminated.  

Georg Dreyman is a communist and the supporter of Council of Ministers of German Democratic Republic after learning these is quite disappointed about the whole thing. In the meantime, Georg Dreyman publishes an article which covers the facts upon East German suicide rate. In this particular article, he directly pointed figure towards the state. Hauptmann Gred Wiesler was already sympathetic to Georg Dreyman learned about the planning of publishing the suicide article but still does not alert anyone. In coming few days, the article got published. Stasi hot a copy of that article but still could not link to any of the typewriter that was registered with German Democratic Republic.

On the other hand, there was nothing much serious in the daily report of Gred Wiesler, which creates suspicion creating one more chance from him in the matter of the spying so that he can interrogate and find out about the hidden typewriter from which that article was typed (Cooke 235). Mean while, in these turmoil situation, Gred Wiesler returned to Georg Dreyman apartment but suddenly Christa Maria got panicked and committed suicide. Mean while Gred Wiesler got information from Stasi to stop the investigation. Devastated by the whole situation  decided to stop an end to his prime career and only continuing with as a normal agent in department. Few year later in the year 1989, Gred Wiesler learned from his fellow co-worker that the wall of Berlin has fallen creating and partial end German Democratic Republic. 


In the year of 1989, the police opened the borders in Berlin quit unexpectedly. It was a movement of re-uniting the East and West Germany. The previous and current economic system was quite displaced and it created impact on the citizens. Due to the fall of Berlin the wall, many people lost their jobs and remained unemployed. Especially, the older generation was much affected. . In fact, the clothes of the citizens were quite dull and grey (Kozloff 20). Mean while in these turmoil situation Gred Wiesler returned to Georg Dreyman apartment but suddenly Christa Maria got panicked and committed suicide. The oppressive behaviour of the people was shown while purchasing the products in the market. The film The Lives of Others presents the harsh reality by illustrating the darker sides of the past consequences in Germany. It conveys the dreary feeling of living in a hellish place like East Germany. The story of the movie contains the drugs, deaths and the corruptions for portraying the lives of the German people in the past. However, it has been observed that the most disturbing part of the story was discussion of surveillance operations of the Stasi officers. Their normal conversation and the casual approaches are quite out of the track in such case.


The two films, The Lives of Others and Good Bye Lenin are allowing the viewers to revisit the past of Germany. The first film offers the viewers to visualize the gloomy past of Germany. It has been specified that the movie depict the reawakening interests in German Democratic Republic. Hauptmann Gred Wiesler was already sympathetic to Georg Dreyman learned about the planning of publishing the suicide article but still does not alert anyone. The citizens faced restrictions in every aspect. During such situation, Gred Wiesler returned to Georg Dreyman apartment but suddenly Christa Maria got panicked and committed suicide. In fact, the clothes of the citizens were dull (Kozloff 26). The oppressive behaviour of the people was shown while purchasing the products in the market. On the contrary, the other film demonstrated the different sides of capitalism in a flourishing way.  It was shown that people were not much interested in supporting the rules of government. Hence, the life portrayal of the German citizens during GDR was perfectly demonstrated in these two films. However, it can be claimed that the negative aspects and flaws could have been reduced instead of highlighting more.

References

Andrews, Molly. "The nice Stasi man drove his Trabi to the nudist beach: Contesting East German Identity." Marked Identities. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2015. 43-57.

Cooke, Paul. "From ‘Auschwitz-land’to Banglatown: Heritage Conflicts, Film and the Politics of Place." Screening European Heritage. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016. 235-255.

Cooke, Paul. "The place of Europe in contemporary German film." The Routledge Handbook of German Politics & Culture (2014): 301.

Coulter, Kimberly. "Territorial Appeals in Post?Wall German Filmmaking: The Case of Good Bye, Lenin!." Antipode 45.3 (2013): 760-778.

Gallagher, Louisa. "Ostalgie-reversing historical erasure through film." Teaching History 50.2 (2016): 32.

Kozloff, Sarah. "Empathy and the cinema of engagement: Reevaluating the politics of film." Projections 7.2 (2013): 1-40.

Lowry, Stephen. "Postwall German Cinema: history, film history, and cinephilia." (2014): 304-306.

Sack, Benjamin C. "Regime change and the convergence of democratic value orientations through socialization. Evidence from reunited Germany." Democratization 24.3 (2017): 444-462.

Sternlieb, Lisa. "" You Must Remember This": The Lives of Others and the Cinematic Imagination." Journal of Film and Video 66.2 (2014): 26-42.

Stockemer, Daniel, and Greg Elder. "Germans 25 years after reunification–How much do they know about the German Democratic Republic and what is their value judgment of the socialist regime?." Communist and Post-Communist Studies 48.2 (2015): 113-122.

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