Daniel Brühl, Maria Simon, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas, Alexander Beyer and Katrin Sass

Wolfgang Becker

Running Time: 121 mins

Available to buy on DVD 01/03/04

1989, East Germany is on the verge of a huge political change and Alex (Brühl) can't wait for it to happen. Joining the protests to bring the Berlin wall down, he is beaten and arrested by the police but if that wasn't bad enough his fanatically socialist mother Christiane (Sass) witness the event and has a massive heart attack sending her into a coma. While she lays comatose in hospital, the barriers between the two Germans crumble and western ideals start spreading east. Eight months later Christine awakes but the doctor tells Alex and his sister Ariane (Simon) that she must not have any shocks or excitement in her fragile condition, as this might trigger a fatal heart attack. So Alex has no choice but not to tell her that her beloved East Germany no longer exists and set up one communist stronghold, in his mother's bedroom.

Placing a story against a major event in history is nothing new but 'Goodbye, Lenin!' does add something new to the mix, humour.

Many movies have used historical incidents to add drama to a storyline. Titanic, Pearl Harbour, Cold Mountain and Enemy at the Gates to name but a few have all injected fact into fiction to bring a modicum of reality to the tale they are trying to tell. 'Goodbye, Lenin!' is no different as it uses the reunification of Germany in 1990 as the backdrop to a family comedy/drama to make complete gem of a movie.

Co-writer/director Wolfgang Becker has taken one of the biggest events in recent German history and built a story and a set of characters around that moment in time. The whole idea of hiding the truth of the fall of the GDR from a staunch socialist is played out in both a touching and comical way. Injecting a huge slice of farce, the movie plays out as a tale of devotion about how much you would through to save a loved one from coming to harm. This is a premise that we can all connect with as everyone has total a little white lie to save someone from been hurt. It's just in Alex's case the white lies are really starting to stack up.

The performances in the movie are first rate. The entire movie is told from Alex's prospective so a strong lead had fold and the filmmakers have that in Daniel Brühl. Acting as both narrator and star, Bruhl carries the entire movie bringing the audience into his plight as he tries to shield his mother from any potentially fatal shock. Brühl injects both passion and commitment into the character making the bond between his mother and him the centre point of the entire movie. This is not a movie about political and social change but one about the importance of family and the wiliness to do anything to keep a loved one from harm. Brühl's performance captures this perfectly.

His support is also good. Maria Simon is excellent as Ariane, Alex's sister who reluctantly goes along with the plan while working in Burger King. Florian Lukas brings video enthusiast and Alex's friend Dennis to life, as he becomes the voice of the GDR for the bogus news footage the pair are making up. His wedding video scene is priceless. The beautiful Chulpan Khamatova as Russian nurse Anna is also good as she is Alex's voice of reason throughout his entire escapade. Katrin Sass's performance as Christiane is the catalyst for the whole movie. She is totally believeable as the dedicated socialist mother who would be devastated to discover that her children had embraced capitalism so easily.

'Goodbye, Lenin!' is a feel good movie with an extremely big heart. While it does have a small underlying story about the relentless march of western commercialism across the former Eastern Block, it is really just a story of the importance of family and a very good one at that. Funny and poignant at the same time, 'Goodbye, Lenin!' is a complete gem.

Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is very good. The picture quality is very sharp and the colours really emphasise the blandness of the décor in East German homes. The sound is also very good and the surround sound comes into its own during the helicopter/statue scene.


Theatrical Trailer
The final trailer for the cinematic release.

A trailer for another UGC film, Swimming Pool.

The film on its own is a gem but the distinct lack of extras is a real shame and seems to be a trend for UK and US releases of European movies. While a commentary might be difficult, a featurette or deleted scenes with subtitles would have improved the value of the disc. The lack of extras should not but you off buying or renting this great film however.

The Usher Home | Hush, Hush... | The Big Story | The Usher Speaks

Stuck @ Home | Coming Soon | Links | Contact the Usher