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Goodbye Lenin!

I went to the movies again yesterday (sometimes I swear it's like the busses: nothing for ages, then 3 or 4 come at once), to see Goodbye Lenin!, a delightful German film about a young Ossi who desperately tries to keep the news of the demise of the German Democratic Republic a secret for his ailing mother, who has invested so much of her life and energy in the socialist paradise. He is helped by his friends and neighbours, but it turns out at the end that it's not just they that are living a lie. It's a beautifully made, bittersweet film, and I can recommend it to everybody.

I spent a couple of weeks in Berlin last year, and it was great to see and recognise parts of it in the film, too. It's a very interesting city, although it appears there isn't very much to do to keep yourself amused when you're there for a longer stay -- it's a bit depressing because of high unemployment and empty houses and office spaces; and hardly anyone speaks a word of English...It's very definitely still trying to find its feet, but in a funny sort of way, that's part of its charm as well the renovated palaces and the brand new government buildings.

Next film on my list: Master and Commander. I loved watching the swashbucklers from the 30s and 40s on TV when I was a child, and Pirates of the Caribbean has whetted my appetite earlier this year. Now I've just got to press someone in to coming with me (my usual film buddy has gone back to live in Birmingham recently)...or go on my own.

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Comments

( 14 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
bogwitch
Nov. 29th, 2003 06:12 am (UTC)
Been thinking of going to Berlin, Bob is obsessed with Eastern Europe and would like to go again (he went as a kid when he lived in Germany). The lack of English is a bit worrying. I did 2 years of German and all I can do is shout help! (German was the class I did most of my teenage writing in and my teacher is now a convicted paedophile).
How very un-european of me.
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 01:15 am (UTC)
Well, you could always revert to the tried and tested English trick of SHOUTING if you can't get your meaning across the first time(that always used to puzzle as well as amuse me when observing this behaviour on holiday in France or Spain -- English tourists would raise their voices when faced with a local who shrugged their shoulders indicating they had no English, and then repeat the question. Obviously thinking, foreigner who has no English must be deaf)...
bogwitch
Dec. 2nd, 2003 05:41 am (UTC)
We are trying to be clear!

We have it too easy, and we should be taught Spanish not French. (I can read french and get the gist, but that's about it. I never use it, no wonder I've forgotten it all. Was always crap at German though)
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 07:00 am (UTC)
Spanish used to be my best foreign language after English! But I've grown lazy, and haven't practised it in years. Can still read and understand, but have no fluency in speaking it any longer. A pity. It's a tongue I really liked.
bogwitch
Dec. 2nd, 2003 07:02 am (UTC)
I think the only real way to learn it is to use it everyday.
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 07:48 am (UTC)
Yes, that's definitely the only way.

I was lucky in that I had French, English, German, Spanish, Russian, Greek and Latin in school, and was required to take Italian when I was at uni; but one by one, my fluency in all these languages has fallen by the wayside through sheer lack of use (except for English, of course).
bogwitch
Dec. 2nd, 2003 07:50 am (UTC)
Did have any time to learn anything else? :-)
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 08:03 am (UTC)
Hardly! I can't do maths to save my life...
bogwitch
Dec. 2nd, 2003 08:04 am (UTC)
That makes two of us.
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 08:04 am (UTC)
...a fact for which I'm not at all sorry, I hasten to add.
(Deleted comment)
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 01:26 am (UTC)
it's a movie about a whole ideology, a whole era

Yes, but it's more than that. It made me realise, for the first time in my life, that the 'proletariat' in communist societies really did think and act differently from their counterparts in the decadent West. Neighbours addressing one another as 'comrade' as a matter of fact, and congratulating one another on their birthdays saying they did so 'on behalf of the party'. I never realised that every aspect of daily life had been so politicised people actually thought and felt differently from us. The Wall coming down must have been a huge shock to many, not just the higher echelon.
(Deleted comment)
gamiila
Dec. 3rd, 2003 04:34 am (UTC)
It kind of makes sense, doesn't it? It's just that I don't think I ever really thought about what it would mean, to live under communist rule, or any kind of totalitarian regime really. I suppose I just assumed the majority of people finding themselves in that situation would just try to live their lives as best they could within the limitations set for them by the authorities, and just worried about keeping their head down. People being sheep, and all...

Kind of makes me wonder whether we in the West are truly free and independent in our thinking, or have we been indoctrinated from an early age as well?
db2305
Nov. 29th, 2003 08:21 am (UTC)
Don't you have some high school German? I at least get by, if wihtout the right inclinaitons...
gamiila
Dec. 2nd, 2003 01:05 am (UTC)
Don't you have some high school German?

Oh yes, I do. And I do get by, but there's one -purely psychological- problem: I have absolutely no confidence speaking it, and get hopelessly muddled. I can think it up perfectly (well, apart from the inclinations) in my head, but when it gets time to actually vocalise it, I get so nervous it comes out unrecognisable or just plain wrong.

I never used to have this problem until some 10 years ago, when I had the incredible misfortune to mangle the German language (again, it was an inclination thing) in a group of neo-nazi's hearing. They tore into me, calling me every name they could think of and demanding I unpollute their country immediately and never come back, and it was only due to a couple of my German friends with me that it didn't escalate. They tried to reassure me that it didn't matter if I didn't get it right all the time and that everyone could understand my meaning, but I was so shaken I swore then and there that I would never ever willingly speak German again.

Of course, I never could keep that up...but ever since that incident, I feel very self-conscious about speaking German, and prefer to speak English if I can.
( 14 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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