Yet Another Graphomaniacs Compendium
Friday, November 12, 2004

Good Bye Lenin


I recently went to see the film "Good Bye Lenin" with my wife. It was an interesting experience in many ways.


Firstly the context in which we saw it; it gave me, from the West an insight into ordinary life under socialism, undistorted by the propoganda of the '80s and '70s. It's impossible to even begin to understand modern Europe and the process that is working out within it , without knowing this.


It's a touching story of a boy who tries to create the illusion that the wall has not fallen after it has, in order to try and spare the life of his mother, who has had a heart attack and should not be subject to excitment.


Like the revolutionary socialists themselves, he tries to create an illusion from the noblest of motives, and the whole thing gets out of control, and ends up developing into an alternative history, where the wall fell because of the enormous pressure from people coming from the West to defect to the East, to drop out of the rat race, of contiunally struggling for jobs, material items, and avoiding drugs and crime.


It made us laugh, it's a ludicirous scenario, isn't it? Then you read headlines like these, and begin to wonder. It's true that there wasn't any intellectual freedom, and not much in the way of material goods under the USSR, but there was empolyment, of a kind, and a security, of a kind. Which explains the phenonemon of Ostalgia, and the continuing popularity of Communist parties in Eastern Europe, besides everything. This memory will mean that Europe will never completely embrace the tooth-and-claw capitalism of the USA or the Asian countries. This might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing, but I'm sure it will continue to be Europe's thing - trying to find a balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the macroeconomy.


So much for such theoretical matters. The film isn't so dry, at all. The characters are all well played, the situations they get into funny and suspenseful, and the end is supremely moving. I expect more films to centre around this moment in history. There must be many, many stories to tell. It could even become the E.U.'s foundation myth, like America's War and Declaration of Independence, if enough time passes...


The other interesting part of it was when it was pointed out that in the films before the fall of the wall the presnence of the wall is the problem, now, in this film, it's it's absence.


The final interesting thing for me is that it's the first time that I went to see a film with my implant on. It was a sensorily overwhelming experience, to hear the music and the speech with such clarity, but I don't know enough German to know how clearly I would have understood a spoken word - only film. Certainly I followed the speech given before the start of the film, despite the lecturer standing in a darkend theatre, far from me. This is the first time I've done something like that, for many, many years, and it was a supremely disorienting experince for me to follow someone's speech from a distance with no visual contact. There's this disembodied thing squirting words into my wet, pulstating brain. Poor thing, yet it's a normal expeirence for 99.99% of the worlds population who have ears to do the job for them..


I'll have to try an english language film. And the Theatre, and the Opera, and I get all this for free from a European health system founded due to socialist ideals...free for all at the point of use..hmm..even if it is falling apart at the seams..I wonder if, in my 60's I'll be experiencing NHStalgia? :-)

posted by John Connors at
Friday, November 12, 2004

7 Comments:

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By Blogger renata, at 10:28 am  

When you are 60 NHS might still be there for you - as horrible and incompetent as ever. :)

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A miscellany of topics that intersest me: deaf culture, game design, politics as soap opera, the cyborg condition and the experience of learning to hear again. Other topics presented are speculative fiction and imaginary cities. There are appearences of snippets of work in progress, public rants, pointless posts and Mish the Mouse.




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