Goodbye, Lenin Imagines a World Where the Berlin Wall Never Fell

The separation of East and West Berlin is perfect fodder for tragedies. Separated families, ruined lives, dreams destroyed; the Berlin Wall remains vivid cultural shorthand for oppression for a reason. On the anniversary of its fall, I recommend watching something that celebrates the humanity of the people divided by it. 2003 German comedy Goodbye Lenin directly incorporates the death of East Germany into the narrative.


The movie starts in 1989, when a fervent Communist woman named Christiane falls into a coma. While she is comatose, capitalism comes to East Berlin. When she wakes up, her son Alex decides she can't learn that the German Democratic Republic is crumbling, and goes to great lengths to maintain the illusion that nothing has changed. His attempts to hide all signs of Western encroachment grow increasingly convoluted, he falls in love, family secrets are revealed, tears are shed.

It's a farce and a love story, and it's well worth purchasing on Amazon or iTunes.

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Michael Walsh

I will look this one up. Meanwhile, I would also recommend the 2006 drama The Lives of Others, which explores the DDR's hermetically sealed state, where half the populace was spying on the other half. It still amazes me there was no bloodbath of revenge against the people who ratted out their neighbors to the Stasi.