Good-Bye, Lenin!

Raymond Chen

This weekend I saw Good-Bye, Lenin!, a German movie about a young man who must pretend that East Germany still exists, for the sake of his mother who was in a coma during the fall of the Berlin Wall and therefore remains unaware of the earth-shattering changes the took place while she was unconscious. There is, of course, the comedy of a young man attempting to recreate a world that no longer exists. But there is also the look into the lives of the people of East Germany. Behind that wall were real people, living their lives day to day. They weren’t evil people. And when the wall fell, that life ended. Of course, this movie also taught me that my German needs a lot of work.

From a “learning German” point of view, I tried to keep track of when the formal “Sie” was used and when the informal “du”/”ihr”. Since I didn’t grow up in Germany, deciding which form to use is for me still a bit of a puzzlement. (When I spoke with some German college students, they said that my German was okay, except that I kept using the wrong word for “you”. Then again, one of them also fell over laughing when I said, “Bilder knipsen”. Apparently “knipsen” is the cutesy way of taking pictures. Thanks to my German textbook for not pointing this out.)


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