German Language Blog

German movies: Good-Bye Lenin! Posted by on Dec 20, 2011 in Culture, Traditions

Today I want to introduce a German movie to you that satirizes some aspects of the German Wiedervereinigung (reunion). The film is called Good-Bye Lenin and the story goes something like this:

In 1989, Alex Kerner and his mother Christiane are living in East Berlin. Shortly before the Mauer (wall) falls, Alex`s Mother, who is a dedicated supporter of the German Democratic Republic, has a Herzinfarkt (heart attack) and falls into a coma. During this coma, the Berlin Wall falls and the GDR becomes history. Most people celebrate the triumph of Kapitalismus (capitalism).

Eight months later, Christine awakes and seems to recover well. But now Alex has a big problem: How should he protect her mother´s geschwächtes (weakend) heart from a shock that would be unevitable? For she is not used to Coca-Cola, MacDonalds, Porsche and Mercedes.

So Alex is a smart guy and he decides to reconstruct the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic). At least in their small apartment. But this is sometimes harder than he ever imagined. A big Coca Cola Banner in front of a window of the apartment and former products that doesn´t exist anymore are just two problems that he faces while pretending that everything is still the same. His efforts to keep all the historical changes from his mother are both funny and rührend (poignant). But as time goes by, Alex reinvents history and creates a new version of what happened during his mothers` Koma (coma).

A friend of Alex even helps him to record their own version of the Nachrichtensendung (TV newscast) to show Christiane on video. As you can imagine, this is one of the funniest scenes in the whole film.

The movie was made in 2003 by Wolfgang Becker and was very succesfull in Germany as well as in other countries. I don´t exactly know if there is an English version, but I guess so. So if you go to a well equiped video store, you might find it.

The cast:

Daniel Brühl: Alexander Kerner
Katrin Sass: Christiane Kerner
Maria Simon: Ariane Kerner
Tschulpan Chamatowa: Lara
Florian Lukas: Denis

Here´s a trailer with English subtitles:

Some vocabulary to this post:

die Wiedervereinigung – reunion
die Mauer – wall
der Herzinfarkt – heart attack
der Kapitalismus – capitalism
geschwächt – weakend
Deutsche Demokratische Republik – German Democratic Republic
rührend – poignant
das Koma – coma
die Nachrichtensendung – TV newscast

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About the Author: jan

My name is Jan and I live in the south west of Germany. My profession is being a project manager at a company that creates digital media (first of all internet related things). This is my job since over a decade so I´m quite familiar with the web and its tools. Whereat today almost every school kid does. But that´s one of the main reasons why nowadays there are quasi no more limits in the internet and so it can be used for all imaginable types of things. For example learning languages! And that´s where we are at the moment. I first got in touch with Transparent Language when my family and I used to live in France a couple of years ago. I just had a break from work and by coincidence I produced some cultural videos in French. A few months later the whole blogging thing came up and I was lucky to be a part of it. So now my (second) job is to feed you with information, exercises, vocabulary, grammar and stories about Germany and German language. For being a passionate videographer I´m trying to do this more and more by videos. If you have any wishes or needs of topics that should be treated here, please don´t hesitate to contact me via a comment field. I´m open to your suggestions (as long as they are not too individual) and will try to satisfy your needs.


  1. mex:

    wunderbar Film!
    another fun one with Daniel Brühl- The Edukators