The film Goodbye Lenin!, from 2003, was the most prominent example of Ostalgie to the world outside Germany. The film is basically about a son who, for his mother’s health, tries to create a make-believe world, in which the Wall didn’t come done and the GDR didn’t disappear from the face of the earth.
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The mother had a heart attack seeing her son in one of the large demonstrations before the Wall came down, and then was in a coma for a few months. The son, Alex, is afraid that if she, as an avid believer in communism and a dedicated teacher, knew the truth about what’s going on, her heart wouldn’t be able to take it and she will die.
So he begins with covering up for the small things that disappeared immediately, such as getting the new brand of pickles and putting them in the glass jar with the logo of the old East German brand of pickles. But as the actual events unfold, the cover-up becomes more and more extensive, and includes fake TV broadcasts and crazy stories, such as the story about the discovery that Coca-Cola was an Eastern invention, or about East Germany agreeing to accept West German refugees.
Alex, side by side with creating the illusion for his mother, is adjusting to the disillusionment and harshness of western capitalism. At some point, he also learns a bitter truth about his mother. He always believed that their father abandoned them for another woman when he moved to West Berlin, and his mother didn’t leave because of faith. He later finds out that she didn’t leave because of fear, and that his father kept writing them for a long time.
How it ends is for you to see, if you haven’t seen this wonderful movie yet.
The film became a symbol of Ostalgie, and in my eyes, it makes a point about what Ostalgie really is. It is not a longing for the real days of the GDR, but for all the things the GDR could have been, but wasn’t.
Besides that, it is a very beautiful film, with some really moving scenes, and really great actors (especially Daniel Brühl, who plays Alex. I absolutely adore him). It was written by Wolfgang Becker and Bernd Lichtenberg, and directed by Wolfgang Becker.