8:00 PM, 7th May, 2004
One day in 1989, young East German Alexander's mother, dedicated servant to the socialist cause, suffers a heart attack while watching a confrontation between demonstrators and police, and slips into a coma. When she awakens several months later, the doctors inform Alexander (Bruhl) and his sister Ariane (Simon) that she's still very fragile, and exposure to any excitement could kill her. This is something of a problem, because in those few months, the Berlin Wall has come down and the world she knows and dedicated her life to working for has been swept away. This sets the scene for Alexander to attempt the impossible - recreating the old East Germany in his flat, so that he can protect his mother from the truth. This provides the main driver of the story, as Alexander ropes in his family and friends to help him maintain the ever more elaborate deception. Slowly the world he portrays to his mother changes from the real East Germany to a more ideal East Germany as he imagined it could have been.
It's a bittersweet story, emotionally concentrating on Alexander's love for both his mother and his girlfriend Lara (the very attractive Khamatova) whilst also containing a large dose of satire. Goodbye, Lenin! doesn't have a great number of laugh-out-loud moments, but it's definitely an enjoyable and entertaining film - and one you're not likely to forget the moment it ends.
9:00 PM, 7th May, 2004
Life is like a pot of porridge. It's 1975, people in Sweden (and elsewhere) are living not in "group houses" but in "collectives", and good-natured, put-upon Goran (Hammarsten), a member of one such collective, is grimly stirring a pot of porridge. He's telling a couple of children how we are all like the oat flakes that make up this porridge, forced to surrender our individual existence in order to become part of something larger, warm, wholesome, "and, yes, beautiful". He sounds as though he's trying to convince himself. The porridge, like all porridge ever made, looks disgusting. The story begins when Elisabeth (Lindgren) finally decides to leave and take her two children away from her abusive husband. She moves into the "Together Collective" with Goran, her brother. The collective is just a nice suburban house crammed full of people. Cracks are starting to appear, although Goran cannot see them just yet. At the start of the film I felt stifled, wondering how the people living in this rabbit warren even managed to breathe. By the end, though, I almost felt at home. Even the porridge didn't look so bad.