Protest Scene in Goodbye Lenin

In one specific scene near the beginning of the film Alexander is walking with a protest group to promote, “the idea of walking without borders.” The protest group wants East Berlin to be connected with the West. Right from the start of this scene everyone in the crowd with Alex is wearing dark shades of clothing and no one’s shirt or colors seems to stick out to the audience. While Alex is protesting with the large crowd his mother on the other hand is sitting in a cab trying to get to a specific location but is forced to get out of the cab as the protestors and officers have taken up the streets. The protestors start getting more and more angry and things begin to get out of hand. While Alex’s mom gets out of the car, Alex is getting arrested by the police. When Alex sees his mother from across the street in a red and white outfit she immediately faints. Alex tries to help save his mother but the cops drag him into the large vehicle and then the car immediately drives away. Alex is forced to watch his mom lay helplessly there as he drives away into the distance.

This one scene shows an importance of love and how love is portrayed in the film. As the audience I was able to see two different types of love in this scene that was being displayed by Alex’s mother. The reason why Alex’s mom fell into a coma was not only the fact that she did not want to see one of her children being arrested but it was also seeing her country ripping itself apart that sent her over the edge. Alex always saw his mother as being connected with the East Berlin and once East Berlin began to destroy itself from the inside that was when he knew how fragile his mom’s life really was. In my opinion Alex’s mother loved her country dearly and she always tried to remain loyal to East Berlin as that was her home. However, by seeing two of the most precious things in her life being taken away from her all at once she was unable to take it all in at and because of it she fell into a deep coma. This scene is about love because without love in a person’s life, human beings begin to lose strength not only physically but mentally too. Overall, as Alex’s mother dies their country dies with her too.

However, while this scene shows Alex’s mother losing two of the most precious things in her life it does also show a transition of who Alex will love in the future. At the beginning of this protest scene Alex is eating an apple and he begins to choke on it. While he is choking on the apple a woman in the crowd comes up to him and starts patting him intensely on the back. Alex coughs up the apple and is immediately mesmorized by this woman. He essentially is speechless when he sees her. When the protest begins to get more out of hand that is when Alex and Lara are separated from one another. This brief encounter shows a transition of who Alex will begin to spread his love to as his mother’s love slowly dies with the falling of East Berlin.

2 thoughts on “Protest Scene in Goodbye Lenin”

  1. Once you mentioned anger, I was immediately brought back to a piece I read for another classic which we read a piece by Deborah Gould titled “Political Despair,” in which Gould talks about emotions aspiring action. You mention in your post that protesters get “more and more angry” in the scene you chose and anger is an affect Gould discusses thoroughly in her piece. It is interesting to look at the connections between anger and activism, especially anger as a vehicle for action. I think close reading political scenes, especially ones rooted in activism, can teach us about social unrest, the human tendency towards emotion, and “political despair.”

  2. I did not notice this moment with the apple, thank you for pointing it out! This might be “reading into it”, but Greg Smith said that that’s okay. Maybe the apple, a common symbol for life and rebirth (at least in Jewish traditional holidays) represents the new world and cultural climate that Alex has to adapt to. In an earlier blog comment I made a brief argument that Alex is creating the fake world for his sake, his comfort, rather than his mother’s. Maybe choking on the apple represents his unwillingness to “swallow” the truth that the world is changing, dramatically and rapidly, and Lara is his grounding anchor both in this moment with the apple and in the scenes to come with his mother.

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