The Prussian Tradition

Prussia and Germany have been confused in the minds of the simplifiers of history. The adjective “Prussian” is frequently used as an epithet, a weapon of denunciation, a condemnation of militarism and conservative repression. The Germans are supposed to have perfected this technique of government in modern times.

But Prussia was not even a German territory in the beginning, as we have seen. Prussia became a part of Germany through conquest and colonization, during the Middle Ages and in early modern times. Certain features of government and public life which developed in this frontier region became a significant part of German life. The Prussian kings eventually made themselves the masters of Germany. So, it might be wise to analyze the Prussian tradition, which became an obviously important factor in modern German history.

I. The Reformation

To trace the development of Brandenburg-Prussia, the nucleus of the Prussian tradition, we have to begin with the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty-Years War. There is no need to treat these events in great detail, since they are a significant part of Western Civilization. We are all familiar by now with the circumstances that led to Luther’s revolt from Rome:
the abuses and corruption that prevailed in the church;
the attempt of reformers to purify the church and their failure;
the event that led to the break with the papacy, symbolized by Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg in 1517;
the attempt of the emperor Charles V and other princes to force Luther to recant and his heroic refusal at the Diet of Worms;
Luther’s temporary isolation in a castle and his translation of the Latin Bible into vernacular German;
and finally the establishment of the Lutheran and other Protestant churches.

We all know that the causes for this great religious schism were social and economic as well as religious, although Luther was no social revolutionary, as his encouragement of the peasant suppression revealed. Yet the break with the universal church was permanent and Protestantism became established in Germany and several other northern European countries. But the conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the princes, which contributed to the Reformation, continued, despite the so-called compromise of 1555, which satisfied no one. There was a revival of Catholicism at the Council of Trent, which brought about belated reform in the Catholic Church and set Catholicism off on a counter-offensive. Catholicism remained the predominant force in Austria, Bavaria and the Rhineland.

There was a constant quarrel over the church lands which had been secularized in the process of the Reformation. What about churchly princes who had been converted to Protestantism? What should be done with their territorial possessions? After the so-called Ecclesiastical Reservation of 1552 the churchly princes were supposed to give up their lands. But many princes claimed that this rule was not binding. A variety of incidents continued to escalate ill feelings and growing tensions. The emperors tried very hard to paper over the increasing series of crises. By 1600 Germany was really divided, and not only between Catholics and Protestants. The Calvinists and Lutherans were also in a state of disarray, even within the Protestant Union which was organized in 1600. During the next decade the opposition organized itself into the Catholic League. War now seemed to be all but inevitable.

II. The Thirty-Years-War

The so-called Thirty-Years-War really began as a civil war between German Protestants and German Catholics, but it soon turned into an international conflict. The contestants were not exactly divided along religious lines, but rather along power-political lines. The combat actually began in Bohemia, where John Hus had earlier started a religious revolt against the established church. Hus was basically a Protestant although he was also a great Czech national figure. There bad been a genuine cultural revival in Bohemia in the l4th century and during the l4th and l5th centuries Bohemia had managed to retain a measure of independence from a reluctant Habsburg regime.

In 1517 Bohemia received a new king, who happened to be a Catholic Habsburg-Ferdinand II. This event led to immediate conflict between the Bohemian nobility and people on the one hand and the new Catholic ruler on the other hand. It culminated in the famous “defenistration of Prague”, when an official of the king was thrown out of the window of a public building by Czech patriots. The Bohemians then made Frederick, duke of Palatine, a Protestant, king of their country. The war was on. In the famous Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 the Czechs were defeated by the armies of the emperor and Frederick had to flee, receiving the name of the “winter king.”

This war continued for some thirty indecisive years, eventually involving a number of foreign countries, most notably France (strangely enough on the Protestant side) and Sweden. In the end Germany lay in ruins, severely depopulated and spiritually devastated. The results were predictable. This war sealed the political decentralization of Germany and established the authority and power of the local princes. The many princes of Germany claimed, for the first time, political sovereignty in the French sense and the final treaties recognized that sovereignty. They could have their own armies, money, treaties and make their own economic legislation. However, they could make no alliances against the emperor himself, whose authority nevertheless was severely eroded. His only power base was found in his own lands-Austria, Hungary and Italy.

The Swedes got a hold of Pomerania and the French retained Metz and Verdun, thus further penetrating to the Rhine frontier. Prussia was a gainer since it received Hither Pomerania, and the son of the Count of Palatine acquired new video pornografici plus an electorate but lost the Oberpfalz. Saxony, Bavaria and Prussia were greatly enlarged and became significant powers in Germany after 1648, the date of the Treaty of Westphalia.

Religiously the Calvinists received the same rights as the Lutherans. However, one could hardly speak of religious liberty for the people, since the princes determined the religion of their subjects. The religious division of Germany was now permanent, the Northeast being Protestant, the West half and half, and the South Catholic. Central Europe was the only place where the Reformation did not produce clear religious majorities. This had a tremendous effect on politics in the succeeding centuries.

III. The Emergence of Prussia

This general background brings us to the emergence of Prussia as a great power in German and European affairs. As I have already said, Prussia was one of the main gainers in the outcome of the Thirty-Years-War. Two men made Prussia into that power and may be called not only the creators of the Prussian state but the founders of the Prussian tradition in German affairs. These men were Frederick William, the Great Elector, and his grandson, Frederick II, the Great.

Frederick William, the founder of the Prussian state, ruled for almost a half century, from 1640 to 1688. He was the first great Brandenhurg ruler, even overshadowing Albrecht the Bear, who first established himself in the territory around Berlin. Frederick William’s accession ended five centuries of relative complacency. He played a far larger role in the Westphalian Congress than his state deserved, both in terms of size and role played in the war. The reason was that he had a large army and displayed certain spiritual qualities which impressed European rulers. Frederick William was determined to defend his three widely scattered possessions:
the Duchy of Prussia, surrounded by Poland and part of it encumbered by feudal law;
Cleve-Mark, subject to Dutch pressure;
and Brandenhurg, subject to Swedish pressure in West Pomerania.

The History of Berlin: The End of the Old and the Beginning of the New

“Bye-bye communism” should have been the name of the movie. The hilarious film shows the beginning of the end communism in Europe and the world. Its almost easy to forget how divided Berlin was before the fall of the wall or for that matter the globe. Its explains the real historic event in a humorous way but without compromising the integrity that democracy represented for many in those times. In less than 30yrs. Germany has shaken its communist past. In that span of time people of younger generations probably never new that Germany was divided. This is a testament to the resilience admiration to freedom the German people display.

The film centers around Alex who in the beginning of the film is like every other young person in the east, protesting for change. Ironically Alex meets Lara who save him from choking during the protest. Lara eventually becomes Alex girlfriend in the film. He just wants to live in a society where he can choose what to do. Alex does become more sympathetic to socialism when he deceives his sick mother. Granted the first thing he does when the wall comes down is go see porn in the west, but that’s his choice. Just one of the many side humor notes in the movies in reference to freedom.
It’s interesting to see how far the German people have come since the fall of socialism. Youth like Alex, who was 22yrs. at the time according to the movie. This is the same generation who would pushed German forward. This is the same generation that battled to reunify German and shake the ghosts of its communist past. In the day of GDR half of Berlin was in shambles due to communism, but today Berlin is once again being known as an international city. In the film this is represented by actual footage of western and eastern Germans tearing down the wall making the city whole once more.
In the movie we see Alex trying to hide the present but in continuously encroaches on the lie that he’s created. I great point made there, no matter how hard he tried nobody can hold back progress. Once Berlin came together Ariane quits school and starts working at Burger King, super hilarious. This moment in the movie also has great importance because in the east everybody had to have a degree, but in the west this wasn’t the case not all people desire to be in highly educated job or life. To me that’s perfectly fine and now thanks to democracy its ok in Germany as well.
This film is truly impressive the way it displays all walks of life. While maintaining its integrity in unbiased approach. Surely their people who were not happy about the east, but it’s the past now. Nobody can argue that Germany is a better nation for what happen in history. This film is more then just another funny movie. All though I agree the best way to portray such a sensitive subject is through humor. It’s great to note the Germans themselves received the movie with open arms. Another mark showing that a people and a nation are looking forward.
This movie is an example to the whole world what life was like not too long ago. Just think of this way, if you were in east Germany you think this film would be allowed. Nobody wants to be in a society where xvideos is censored. The movie lets everybody know that change can be shocking and scary, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing.

A Journey from Two to One Germany through the Eyes of Alex

Good bye Lenin! Rewarded as the Best European Film at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival is the most commercially successful German movie in history. The film provides the glimpse of one of the major European historical event and revolves around during the collapse of Berlin wall .The movie depicts the effect of German reunification on the people and highlights many social and political issues. The Film is based on the story of a young boy named Alex and his fragile mother and his struggle to keep his avid communist mother alive and explores the reunification of East and West Germany through his life.
Alex’s mother, Christiane Kerner, is an avid follower of the Socialist party and a strong political activist, when she sees her son Alex being arrested in an anti-government protest, suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma shortly before the fall of the Berlin’s Wall. During her unconscious stage Germany faces many changes from the fall of Berlin wall to German reunification. But for Christiane, this news might turn to a shock and a relapse. Alex being aware of the fact that even slightest shock could become threat to his mother’s life, Alex hides the fall of the GDR from his mother and maintains the delusion that things are pretty normal in the German democratic republic. He tries to create the GDR again for her in their apartment by decorating the flat in its previous decor, replacing old clothes, and feeding his mother in old labeled jars as earlier. But like all deception, gradually it becomes complicated and even more difficult to maintain.
Despite everything, Christiane seldom witnesses strange incidences, such as a huge Coca-Cola ad banner spreading out on a building outside the flat on which Alex portrays his own story regarding the claim of patent dispute of Coca Cola’s invention to GDR from West. Even Alex and his buddy creates their own fake special reports by editing old tapes of news broadcasts, pretending to his mother to be a live broadcast. Thus Becker enfolds the Alex’s heart touching attempts to save his mother in every possible way and its is more of coming of age with sub-plots including the development of Alex’s relationship with Nurse Lara and Ariane’s job at Burger king after she quits her university study.
But one day Christiane ventures out from that tiny fictional world, sees a changed world herself. She learns that the streets are flooded with Westerners and is perplexed by all the ads for Coke. Alex and Denis again construct a fictional story to her that Westerners are fleeing to the East and produce fake newscasts reporting that the West is facing collapse and the Coke’s right has reverted to the communist nation.
Good bye Lenin is an idiosyncratic comedy, because it never utterly says the self deception which leads Christiane to support the Communist Party. In the end of the movie it is surprisingly suggested that she may have replaced her spouse with that of communist party as an act of compensation to her emotional trauma as in the earlier part of the movie it is learnt that his father abandoning his family behind flee over the Berlin wall to the west.
The film has many ups and downs and is a nostalgic as it is reflects and represents how the societies’ significant changes can adamantly affect people. The movie is marvelously entertaining, witty and occasionally poignant, tragic-comedy dealing with issues related with relationships, bonds to those of political, social and cultural. It gives a great insight of how the whole transition of communist to western world democracy influenced people.

Good Bye Lenin as a Wolfgang Becker’s Masterpiece

Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye Lenin! reaching out beyond its boundaries and a successful movie worldwide is an enormously profound, simple and funny adventure movie. Sometimes it is regarded as Becker’s Masterpiece.

The director, Wolfgang Becker in the movie Good Bye Lenin has strong personal links and special interest to East Berlin and he has used his complete knowledge, familiarity and personal experience in order to bring more authenticity in the movie. It is due to hard work only Becker being hailing from West German is successful in portraying the East culture accurately in the movie. In an Interview Becker also admitted that he visited east many times while living in Berlin in 1980s. In order to recreate East Berlin and to bring authenticity Becker successfully managed to take his audience 10 years back and spent whole budget allocated for the movie in just 2 weeks.

He used to take the testimonies of the people who witnessed the fall of East Berlin wall and kept a keen eye on the historical past of East Berlin not because he wanted to make a film but he also developed a personal interest in going to that depth. The movie provides a deep insight into the relationships, family bonds and different priorities in life with a historical background as the basis. It is very rare when a movie incite those thoughts in the Viewers.

In Good Bye Lenin, Becker never shows favoritisms between East and West German but have compassion for Alex’s spot. Through the character of Alex, director Becker try to depict the situation of young man stuck in the middle of coming of age and his self-constructed fictional world.

Becker has been criticised many times on this ground for proving a little knowledge about the history in the movie. The main reason behind that is Becker’s insight and personal understanding. He finds no interest in making films based on public figures or heroes rather he prefer to make the movie  based on fiction depicting sever issues and its influence on the common people.

Director and co-screenwriter Wolfgang Becker doesn’t make story too sweet and there’s some startling softness and honesty. Each character in the movie feels honest and real. Becker skill fully manages to strike the balance between the characters. Character of Alex as a young enthusiastic, devoted guy and Christiane as a avid communist or we can say too idealistic, are both convincing and appealing, and where as Ariane’s character is more realistic and easily adaptable to western environment and Character of Lara as a sympathetic student nurse who in starting helps Alex and then develop a love relationship with him. As this movie as surfeit of level, each characters can be related to different levels.
Becker has made this movie on a slow pace and once he revealed that it took 7 years to make this movie and he went to every depth and research to make this movie possible. He wanted to show is audience more than the German reunification. He calls this movie a “Universal Movie” as the movie can be understood and applauded by audience in and outside Germany. This movie is a narrative fiction, Tragic-Drama-comedy and based on an important European historical event. This movie is mainly a satire and poke fun on the irrationality of political system. Director Wolfgang received the Best Director award for this movie. The movie which topped the German Box office and even on the box offices of other countries and received many prominent awards and success worldwide, is seriously Becker’s Masterpiece indeed.

Receptive depiction of Berlin’s Fall Leading to Political and Social Turmoil

GOOD BYE LENIN! is a tragic-comedy of a bittersweet type. It has revealed the intricacy of life in the midst the buoyancy of freedom, temptation of westernization, and the saddle of hasty change. Set against the historic collapse of the Berlin Wall, the movie combines the comedy of situation, irony of destiny, and the clashing alliance between reality and the fiction, hence depicting a underlying tale of being.

The most important theme in the movie is the constant concurrence between the old German Democratic republic (GDR) and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Central Character Alex represents the westernized values as are the protestors who want to smooth the path for western influence and seek the fall of Socialism.

It is a blaze on a dictatorial rule which started spitting the mentalities within the nation. The outcome of which is a generation commended to westernization. This movie gives an inspired summary of Socialist principles in wider contexts, such as the military and function of the nation as well as it’s filtration into the minds of the individuals.

In Goodbye Lenin, the revolt by the people is shown in the start, everything else flowed from that, changing the lives of people, and ending the word “Communism”. Goodbye Lenin is rich in visual representation, wit and humor and gives an accurate historical impression of how these changes affected the lives of East German people and their responses in return.

The fall of Berlin Wall is an important historical event not only for German but for entire World. The Movie Good bye Lenin! Is mainly a political satire on the absurd political system. The historical context in the movie is the leading part in the plot and gives very small overview of the political system of that time. Movie is more focused on the lives of East German people rather than depicting any political history involved. The movie mainly stress on struggles of people living in the east German before and after the fall of Berlin wall and reunification of East and West Germany into one drastically affected the lives of the people in that nation such as changes in to lifestyles, changes in currency, disregard of the east.

History of Berlin: Few nations in the world have borne the turbulent history as similar to Berlin. Before the Second World War, the amalgamated countries signed a Potsdam Treaty which defined the Berlin’s borders. Hence Berlin was divided into 2 parts with Soviet influence in the East and US, French and British influence in the west an later the two cities split into two through the creation of a wall called Berlin Wall. The wall separated the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the East from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the west.

In the East German Democratic Republic asserted the rigorous and powerful control on the city and on citizen though communism. People were forced to live in a harsh and restricted manner and were forced to break the ties from the loved once living in the West with no contacts for several years.

The movie does not talk negative about the GDR, neither supports the GDR. It does not provide any insight into the dark side of the East Germen Government but more focuses on the struggle of a family affected by those changes occurred post Reunification.

Overall I think Good Bye Lenin! is a remarkably enjoyable movie with a great idea but it falls short in strengthening characters and bi-plots. The movie constantly entertains in humorous and mentally provoking way while shows societies’ significant transformation and how that can critically influence someone’s life.

The Thin Line between Truth and Lies: The Power of the Kerner Family Relationships

Has Alex continues to live the life he produces become increasingly outrageous. The length which she goes to 2 create these lies for his mother are likewise outrageous. When her favorite pickles could not be found he dives into the dumpsters in their neighbourhood in search of an empty glass jar from her favorite pickle brand and filled it with the new pickles from Holland. But perhaps most interesting is that he uses legitimate footage of the Berlin Wall falling and the people rushing into the west but he uses this image to twist the truth with a new commentary. The commentary states that this footage is actually depicting people rushing away from the list in order to get rid of their materialistic lives and embraced the ideals of the East. While this is entertaining in the film itself, it is easy to see how even in modern times, today, we are told or shown what things to believe in the media and they are not necessarily the whole truth.

Most interesting leave though is that the deeper Alex in bed himself in this fictional world the more convinced his girlfriend and his sister become that he is doing the wrong thing. Alex of course is not the only member of his family who has started to blend the truth. In fact the mother revealed at the end of the film that for many years she was the one who abandoned the children’s father by refusing to go with him in the West. The children had been told that their father left either in search of another woman or simply turning his back on his children but in truth the mother refused to go with him and made her children stay in the East.

Family relationships are a key element in this particular where the family is made up of vastly different characters. And as the narrative move forward the relationships between all of these characters become increasingly strained the results of Alex attempting to protect his mother with his charade. He becomes increasingly controlling and the deception he started in order to protect his mother is taken to extremes which has an impact on what his sister does for a living, which diapers her baby can wear, and who was responsible for the invention of Coca Cola. Of course in spite of all these lies there exists a strong bond between the mother and her two children. Love is what allows them to forgive one another and it allows them to start a new beginning. Both Alex and his sister forgive their mother for her deception, naturally because of their own.

It becomes increasingly clear as the film continues that the mother initially suspect her children are lying and you’re the end of the film she figures it out. As he walks into her hospital room following her second stroke it becomes clear that Alex’s girlfriend has told her what was going on and in her final moments with her son she pretends to continue believing in his lies, and act which underlies the true strength of their family love.

In reality this font is one deeply seated in Alex’s childhood. The flashbacks to his youth show him desperate to make the world right for his mother and desperate to make his mother proud of him. He often dreamed of being the second man in space from East Germany and took part in the young rocket Builders Association. His childhood anxieties about pleasing his mother and making her proud continued well into adulthood as he continued to seek out his mother’s approval by creating the perfect world for her.

Genre and Style: The Use of Farce in Representing Political Change

The film Goodbye Lenin focuses on many serious issues vanished inside of a comical illusion. By combining elements of satire with the central Love Story between Alex and his mother the director creates a striking contrast between the emotional turmoil of one family’s response to a life-threatening condition and the serious political backdrop to the story. This film, because of this, is best described as a tragicomedy where in the comedy deals with a tragically sad situation in a way that is quite humorous. We laugh as the audience as Alex desperately tried to protect his mother from the “Real World” but at the same time the audience is still moved by her death or strongly affected by how strong the love is between the mother and the son. Of course certain references are only understood by the German audience what other references can make audiences from all over the world laugh out loud.

Alex’s actions become increasingly bizarre. His improbable situation is made particularly entertaining by the Hues of running jokes. And the plot speeds up until it is resolved with the final confession and last stroke of the mother. Throughout this film the audience Smiles at otherwise sad situations. Without realizing it, Alex becomes controlling of his friends and his family in order to protect his mother which relies upon Him using methods of the old communist state. This irony of course indicates that the mother’s original stroke was brought about by seeing her son protesting against the old communist state.

Throughout this film, there are several interesting motifs. Repeatedly we see flashes of space and space travel particularly when we learn about Alex’s childhood and how obsessed he was with space travel early in the film. When his mother first ventured into the outside world after she had her stroke, she sees Lennon in the sky drifting into the sunset. As his statue passes in front of her we see his hand located at the front of the frame as though he is beckoning to her and yet she does not follow him. For the mother coming out into physical reality meant letting go of the imaginary world in which she spent years and have a thing. It is also a chance for her to truly face the reality of her situation and own up to the fact that she abandoned her husband and that the ideals she used to justify the lies she told you her children were no longer valid. But her character is not alone in this. Alex had to face up to the fact that the world he built for his mother was built out of line and would collapse sooner or later.

See director interview archive footage from actual events during this time into this narrative which is a very important technique. The technique encourages the audience to remember that in spite of the community events taking place these events were real. This truly helps the audience to play into the concept of truth and lies. By taking real footage the director is able to demonstrate how easily footage of real events can be manipulated in order to create the response desired. That fake Berlin created by Alex in order to protect his mother embodied the ideal that some parts of Germany truly dreams of achieving. And letting go of this dream amounted to having to let go of many former heroes. For Alex this of course meant letting go of Sigmund Jahn and for his mother it meant letting go of Lenin. Jahn drives away in a taxi and the Lenin is transported into the air. This film truly explores these issues while at the same time telling and emotionally involved and funny story.

Comedy and History: Making Truth a Bit Funnier

Goodbye Lenin is a film which was first released at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival where it was hailed as a great cinematic accomplishment, one which provided insight into a major event in European history as well as social and political issues surrounding that time period. The heart-warming film was so successful in its debut that it earned more money in Germany than the Harry Potter films did in their first month. The title of the film reflects the changing political landscape of the time, with the official sendoff of Soviet influence and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wolfgang Becker decided to rely upon Rip Van Winkle satire to follow the story of a single man trying to make history, but with time forced to stand still in order to protect his mother from the truth. The story takes places in 1989, the anniversary of the German Democratic Republic. Alex, the main character, is 22 and lives with his sister Ariane and his mother Christiana in East Germany. His father defected to West Germany ten years prior. Christiana is a highly regarded member of the Socialist party and a heavily involved political activist.

She witnesses her son at an anti-government demonstration the shock of which causes a heart attack and a subsequent coma. She remains in a coma for 8 months. While she is in a coma the political landscape of Germany begins to change; the Berlin Wall has come down, the East German government has been shut down and capitalism has invaded from West Germany.

In an unfortunate turn of events, waking from her coma has brought with it the recommendation by her physicians that no shocking information be revealed lest it cause a relapse. This includes any knowledge about the changes to the political landscape or references to the new government. With this in mind, the family sets out to keep the spirit of the German Democratic Republic alive within their apartment. They mix emotional scenes with farcical stunts to explain away the glimpses of the Western world which Christiana can see. The result of these efforts leaves Christiana in blissful ignorance of the changes to Germany until the end.

As the film comes to an end, Alex and his family are ready for a new and exciting life. Their future is limitless with opportunities to move, get jobs, and maintain possibly better lives than those of their parents. Some critics have argued against the longevity of the film, stating that the story was dragged out longer than it was needed. That said, a counterargument poses that the effect of the film might have been lost with any of the intermediary content cut out.

The Use of Comedy

That being said, in spite of the heavy political turmoil in the plot, it is not all heavy. Throughout this film there are many opportunities for comedy, not all political changes and turmoil. As Alex attempts to recreate and maintain a miniature East Germany for his mother, there are several uses of farce and slapstick comedy as the ludicrous plans are attempted. These plans are made even funnier when set against the backdrop of a city in political turmoil. This is evidenced by one scene in particular, where Alex attempts to reproduce the GDR news bulletins to play to his bedridden mother. To do this, he takes new reports which explain the glimpses of capitalism his mother has already seen and twists the reality such that the story she hears is a manufactured recording of westerners rushing over to East Berlin having heard about the potential benefits of the Socialist system.

Keeping the GDR Alive: The Kerner Family after the Collapse of the Berlin Wall

In the Film Goodbye Lenin, Christiana Kerner—the mother of Alex and Ariane—falls into a coma after witnessing her son at an anti-government rally, herself a strong advocate of Socialism and a political activist. Soon after Christiana falls into her coma, the Berlin Wall is taken down. With each newly dismantled piece of brick and dust, a new way of life enters East Germany. This event was one of historical significance and a great deal of fame in fact. The wave of change which swept over East Germany at this time brought a new social, political, and economic landscape. The residents in East Germany were suddenly overwhelmed with new rights such as the right to vote for a plethora of political parties, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement. They were free to join trade unions, to insist on better working conditions and better pay. The media including television, radio, and newspaper were no longer censored nor controlled by the state. Secret police no longer roamed the streets and political prisoners were not taken any more.

But of course such a distinct change was not without its issues. While all citizens were now free, they were not necessarily better off. The replacement of Soviet aid with capitalism meant a great deal of job loss and higher unemployment. The society security payments and welfare plans of old were reduced. Those specialists once highly regarded and highly paid by the communist state, including sports individuals, artists, scientists, and academics, were no longer paid. The government was unable to afford a large police force or army which meant an increase in political violence and crime.

Christiana’s generation relished the East German lifestyle, but the younger generation including her son were not interested. They no longer cared about politics and sought capitalism with open arms.

In the film, Alex struggled to keep the ideology of the GDR alive for his mother, especially when she craved some of her favorite delicacies like Globus Peas or Spreewald Pickels both of which were nearly impossible to find in the increasingly westernized supermarkets. The GDR products were devalued immediately by the introduction of western commodities, a legitimate glimpse into the historical turn of events, and they were equally despised by Ariane and Alex. This caused emotional value to intrinsically develop to these products, products to which the mother clung and products the children hated. Ariane, for example, wants to move beyond the old Eastern lifestyle by getting a western boyfriend and a job at Burger King.

The New East Berlin

Without the restrictions of communication, Alex and Ariane were able to take advantage of the richness brought about by the west. With their mother still confined to her bed following her waking from a coma, the two children were able to dress as they wanted and live their lives as they wanted with their mother confined to the East Berlin replicate apartment. Alex and his girlfriend Lara encounter an empty apartment with GDR food and furniture likely left behind when the owners made their way to the west when the wall came down. The two attend a party of young people drinking and dancing, enjoying drugs. This event, while seemingly normal in the West, was unheard of in the East before the wall came down. Of course, these events display the influence of the west without necessarily stating that they are good or bad. One might view the scene of the drugs and partying with disdain at the negative influence of the west while others may praise the freedoms afforded by this change.

Berlin’s Historical Developments: The Tearing Apart and Rebuilding of a Single City

This film, by way of retracing the steps of the Kerner Family, is able to take pot shots at the ideologies of both capitalism and communism. It converts this one family crisis into a symbol of Germany’s attempts to rebuild themselves as a nation and heal the wounds of their past.

The historical context of this film dominates the plot and provides viewers with very little knowledge about the political era during which it was set, or how life was before the changes, or even how life changed so dramatically for those people in the East after. Of course, viewers with any personal history or memory of the time period will be whisked away to a nostalgia of the historical transformation of Germany both good and bad.

Few capitals around the world have endured the tumultuous history that Berlin had to endure. As the Second World War came to a close, the allied countries including the Soviet Union, United States of America, Great Britain, and France, all signed what became known as the Potsdam Treaty. This treaty defined the borders not just for Germany but for Berlin. In the following decades, Berlin was divided between the Soviet influences of the East and the U.S., French, and British influence of the west. Soon enough the already separated city was split into two in 1961 with the creation of the Berlin Wall. The wall officially separated the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the East from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the west.

In the East, where the Kerner Family lived, the GDR maintained strict control over the lives of the citizens and city by way of communism. Families were forced to live in a restricted existence cut off from loves ones on the West with little to no contact for more than two decades.

This film brings into the question the feelings a family might have faced seeing the wall get bigger and more impassable, feelings of safety for some and yet feelings of being trapped for others.  Becker works hard to create a believable East Berlin, one reflective upon what it was like for families at the end of the 1980’s with people clinging to the familiar, to what they know, and younger people seeking out change from the oppression they saw in the security seen by their elders.

In fact, the lead actor, the director, and the scriptwriter have personal links to East Berlin, using their personal experiences and knowledge to enhance the authenticity of the film. They coursed cars, artefacts, and clothes from that time period in order to bring to life the authenticity of the time period. Becker stated that the cost for recreating a 1989 East Berlin scene was underestimated and within two weeks the entire allocated budget had been spent.

Reflections on the Utopian City

The director, Wolfgang Becker, and Alex worked hard to create a utopian German Democratic Republic, a key aspect to the film which many viewers have complained was far from the reality of the time. The film does not mention negative sides to the political party, leaving out how they spied on even their supporters, how poorly refugees trying to leave the party were treated, or of Bautzen the notorious torture prison reserved for political rebels. By not including the darker side of the East Germany government Becker has shown only a positive side influencing the overall tone of the film from one focused on the dark side of a vicious historical government to one focused on the day to day struggles of this family.