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Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
Disinformation in Good Bye Lenin!
In Wolfgang Becker's film Good Bye Lenin! several characters seek to protect each other from knowledge that they feel may harm them. Alex, the film's protagonist, believes that his father left his mother for a woman in West Berlin. In reality, Alex's father had to flee the country and wished more than anything to see his family once more. Fearing for the safety of her family, Christiane (Alex's mother) does not join her husband in the West.
When Christiane falls into an 8-month coma due to a heart attack, the dividing line between East and West Berlin falls, and Western ideals flow into the socialist city. When she wakes up, Alex decides to hide this knowledge from her in order to avoid another heart attack. The process proves exhausting; Alex must hide the commercial products that have inundated the city from his mother by disguising them as state-sponsored items like "Mocha-Fix" coffee and "Spreewell" pickles. As capitalism expands, so too must Alex's ruse. In order to explain what Christiane has already seen, Alex begins, with the help of a friend, to produce false television news reports.
Alex's campaign of misinformation tends to resemble the actions of the GDR,and he creates a representation of old East Berlin in the form of his mother's room. The door to her bedroom becomes a sort of Berlin Wall as Burger King uniforms hang just outside.
Furthermore, his efforts come to resemble those of his own mother to keep knowledge of his father from him and his sister. Christiane kept letters from her husband hidden from her children. In seeking to protect her children from the lure of the West, she drastically alters the idea that her son has of his father. Alex imagines him as a disgustingly fat man lounging next to a pool and biting ravenously into a cheeseburger. As it turns out, his father, like all the characters in the film, only wanted the best for his family. The way in which the film treats this desire is problematic: though Alex wants to protect his mother, he may be harming her just as much by misleading her. Similarly, by protecting Alex from the memory of his father, Christiane destroyed his image.
When Alex's girlfriend, Lara, finally tell Christiane the truth, she cannot chastise him for his actions. Rather, she realizes that she has done the same thing herself out of love. Knowing that the ruse is an expression of Alex's love for her, she decides to let him keep on thinking she is ignorant to the reunification of Berlin.
Though the ending seems happy, it is problematic as well. Though Alex believes his mother died blissfully unaware of the triumph of the West-knowledge has still been kept from him. In reality, Christiane did know the truth and died blissfully aware of her son's devoted love. However, the problem of characters depriving one another of knowledge is still perpetuated in this ending.
*This was written as a short response to the film for a comparative world literature class that I took on a whim in my final semester at the University of Illinois. Composed on the fly, it probably contains some errors, but lemme know what you think in terms of theme and interpretation!