goodbye lenin! employs the same basic themes as the barbarian invasions: the parent-child relationship, death, and socialism. only in tbi, the son soothes his father's suffering with drugs; in goodbye lenin!, the son, alex, abates his mother's anxiety by recreating east germany through gdr paraphernalia and faked news reports.
having witnessed her son get arrested during protests against the wall, a die-hard socialist mother falls into a coma just days before the berlin wall descends. when she awakens 8 months later, alex is told to protect her from any excitement lest she suffer another heart attack. the juxtaposition of alex's desperate attempt to preserve the stuff of socialism with east germany's frenzied rush into capitalism is comedic and tender at once. a trippy scene involving a statue of lenin pushes the illusion to the edge, and it's at the edge of truth and idealism that the film is most moving.
goodbye lenin! demonstrates the vitality of setting and context, weaving adept historical and cultural criticism throughout the narrative and cinematography. what keeps the movie grounded, though, is the care and attention given to alex's family as they navigate extraordinary societal and political change.