Inside vs. Outside in Good Bye Lenin!

Throughout the film Good Bye Lenin! there is a constant split between  the inside and the outside as the main character, Alex Kerner, attempts to deceive his mother into believing that the Socialist party is still in control over Germany. Outside their small apartment in East Berlin exists a new world with new products, companies, and structures. Whereas the outside world contains reality, the inside rooms and buildings within this film represent an escape mechanism whereas the characters are somewhat untouched by the conflict happening outside their walls. In fact, Alex’s mother, Christiane, remains bed-ridden for the majority of the film, allowing Alex and his sister Ariane to manipulate their mother into believing that her beloved socialist party has not fallen.

I began to realize this dichotomy of inside versus outside during the scene where Alex and his girlfriend Lara wake up together in a pool of light at 49:58. This scene opens with a fresh branch full of leaves framing the new apartment they found together. The camera then pans over to Alex and Lara who are in each others’ arms, their heads and arms touching as they lay in a sea of white. A soft light shines upon them as well, brightening the scene even further. My first thought when watching this scene was that the two of them being young and in love stands in for a symbol of hope and positivity amidst a world that is still trying to mend deep wounds. The fact that the scene starts with fresh green leaves on a tree hints that revival is occurring, along with new life. Furthermore, the soft natural light and the whiteness of this scene points to a sense of serenity and purity, which the two characters seem to feel as they are both asleep and intertwined. Alex and Lara being asleep and waking up together also points to a sense of freshness, despite the hard time both characters have been going through. The music that plays behind the scene also contributes to the blissfulness of this moment as it contains high notes that give off a whimsical feeling. The audience also can hear birds chirping in the background, a universal sign for peace and serenity.

The scene with Alex and Lara quickly cuts to Christiane snoring in her own room, a snore that is loud and cutting. The camera tilts up to show an unenthused Alex bringing his mother morning tea and her other needs (50:45.) Here, it is clear the inside does not always symbolize the same world of bliss as Alex experienced with Lara, however it is still a place where his mother is alive and well, believing in the world he created for her.  Alex gives off a small smile at his mother who wakes up groggy and a little confused, indicating that this inside space is still a space that is positive compared to the outside world. Later in the film, Alex even describes his world as becoming faster and faster and says “sheltered from the fast pace of the new time, was an oasis of calm,” (1:18).  He describes the apartment with his mother as a place of peace and serenity, furthering this notion of the inside being a place of bliss or even ignorant bliss.

What I have not yet made sense of is the large hole in the wall of the apartment where Alex and Lara spend the night together. This may appear to be farfetched, but perhaps it shows that Alex and lara have a window into the outside world, or reality. However, they have the ability to escape into a place where only they exist. Unlike Christiane, Alex and Lara are able to view the outside world but still exist with one another in a positive space.