Category Archives: Wolfgang Becker

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 porno 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 xxx 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.

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.