The Pros and Cons of Life in Communist East Germany in Goodbye, Lenin Essay

The Pros and Cons of Life in Communist East Germany in Goodbye, Lenin Essay

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On the whole, does Goodbye, Lenin paint a positive or negative picture of life in communist East Germany?


East Germany, its demise relayed through the mass media of recent history, has in popular consciousness been posited as negative, a corrupt bulwark of the last dying days of Communism in Eastern Europe, barren and silent. The other Germany to its West, its citizens free, was striding confidently ahead into the millennium. Recent cinema has sought to examine re-unification, the Wolfgang Becker film Goodbye Lenin! (2003) a recent example of such an investigation into the past through cinema. In this essay I will look at the film and the narrative techniques it uses, probing whether it portrays the East German nation as positive or negative, concluding that though many negatives are identified, some positives are deduced from Honecker's state. I will also consider why, in recent times, East Germans have come to regard their former state with nostalgia, or as the Germans would put it, ostalgie, an act which Goodbye Lenin! (2003) explores.

Not a doom laden, emphatically political treatise on the reunification of East and West Germany but a touching and sometimes comedic insight into the gargantuan changes impacting on the small scale, day to day life as experienced by an East German family, Christiane Kerner and her two children Alex and Ariane. Awaking from a coma, Alex fears his mother?s condition may worsen if she learns of re-unification, going to increasingly elaborate lengths in maintaining the illusion of the GDR's omniscience. Becker?s stance as to reunification is ambivalent throughout, the film's concerns not didactic but subtly relayed. How the personal and political interweave is skilfully constructed by Becker,...


... middle of paper ...


...a more positive emphasis placed on the possibilities of forgiveness, redemption and hope for what can be made of tomorrow.







Bibliography
A Reversal of Fortunes? Women, work and change in East Germany. Rachel Alsop. Berghahn Books. 2000

Germany and the Germans. After Unification. New Revised Edition. John Ardagh. Penguin Books. 1991

German Cinema since Unification. Edited by David Clarke. Continuum, in association with University of Birmingham Press. 2006

Representing East Germany since Unification. From Colonization to Nostalgia. Paul Cooke. Berg. 2005

Germany since 1945. Lothar Kettenacker. Oxford University Press. 1997

Germany. Unravelling an Enigma. Greg Nees. Intercultural Press. 2000

Understanding Contemporary Germany. Stuart Parkes.Routledge. 1997

Dividing and Uniting Germany. J.K.A Thomoneck and Bill Niven. Routledge. 2001

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