Taking a trip down memory lane

Remembering the wall’s fall

13 November 2019 | Art and Entertainment

As part of the celebrations surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German embassy and the Goethe Institute hosts the screening of the movie Goodbye Lenin at the Zoo Park on Saturday at 19:00.
The movie is set in the GDR in the summer of 1978. Sigmund Jähn is the first German in space on board the Soyus 31, while Alex Kerner’s father also leaves his country and goes west. One is a hero, the other a deserter.
Men from the state security agency visit Alex’s mother, causing her to have a mental breakdown. Upon her return from hospital, she becomes an activist while the rest of the family continues its socialist life – until autumn 1989 when Alex takes part in the “evening walk” – a demonstration for freedom which is brutally broken up by representatives of the state.
On her way to a celebration in the “Palast der Republik”, she sees how her son is brutally beaten up. She breaks down again, is taken to hospital far too late and is in a coma following a heart attack.
In the meantime, the Berlin Wall falls and the Kerner flat is upgraded to western standards. However, Alex’s mother misses out on the victory of capitalism. She awakes in summer 1990, with her doctor declaring that excitement of any kind could prove fatal and Alex is forced to conceal the demise of the socialist regime from her at first. But what will happen when she returns home, albeit confined to bed?
What follows is the story of GDR nostalgia in practice: From the reconstruction of the bedroom at home to the search for familiar Spreewald gherkins, a traditional product which rapidly disappears from the market and is replaced by western products.
In his despair, Alex transfers modern products into old packages and the east-west swindle is successful. Ever more desperate measures are needed to keep up the illusion as his mother recovers her health. Alex spares no effort to celebrate her birthday; he invites old comrades, and boys from the “Young Pioneers” which have long since been disbanded come to sing songs praising their socialist homeland. He even manages to solve the problem of the media with the help of a friend: Denis is a born propagandist who merges pictures from his video camera with archive material from the former GDR and gives the material new meaning.
Alex’s mother falls for the swindle, not only on account of the tricks used, but also because of her limited imagination which cannot go further than October ’89.
Entrance is free, and visitors can also enjoy a free drink and popcorn while watching this movie that wittily demonstrates the arbitrariness of images and sounds. The movie is in German with English subtitles.

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