Pickles, Robert, and Things Lost

On a certain level, I found the movie to be really creepy on the false reality premise, but as we saw before Alex’s father went to the hospital, Lara lets his mom in on it. I think that moment is meant to show the care intended by Alex to his mother and her appreciation for it but it also allows us to view the film as transitionary for a unified Germany.

I find it harder to fault Robert than I did at the beginning of the film because he did indeed try to contact his family after going through with a previously agreed upon plan–but he also represents Western Germany in a Capitalist consumer way. While Alex’s mother is dying, he is throwing a party in a nice suit inside of a nice house. That juxtaposition of Alex and Robert is portrayed really well and intentionally in the scene where they first meet. A utilitarian denim jacket vs a long lost father in a suit.

I think the manifestations of other problems are portrayed really well in the film too–like the pickle example. The GDR had suddenly been transformed into a consumer’s wonderland, yet Communist era pickles were nowhere to be found. While largely unimportant, it is a nostalgic point in the film over the things that were lost at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Often the fall is described as a time where unification seemed possible and all of the things the GDR might gain are discussed excitedly, but I think the film makes a very nice point about honing in on what was lost. What else was lost in this sense? What larger elements of culture shift and how is that received by the characters in the film?

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