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Thursday October 6th 2022

Good Bye Lenin! | 2003

Good Bye Lenin! filming location: Berolinastrasse, Berlin
Good Bye Lenin! location: Alex's apartment block: Berolinastrasse, Berlin

It’s East Berlin, 1989, and Christiane Kerner (Katrin Saß), a well-meaning but staunch defender of the GDR keels over with a heart attack. By the time she awakes from a coma, the Berlin Wall has fallen, Soviet Communism has collapsed and it’s up to her dutiful son Alex (Daniel Brühl) to prevent further shocks to his mother’s system by attempting to keep the dreadful news from her.

Good Bye Lenin! filming location: Berolinastrasse, Berlin
Good Bye Lenin! location: Alex's apartment block: Berolinastrasse, Berlin

The apartment block, which Alex is obliged to restore to its dowdy GDR state is 21 Berolina Strasse, overlooked by the Berliner Fernsehturm, the television tower with its stainless steel ‘disco ball’, built in the late Sixties to dominate East Berlin as a symbol of communist power.

His mother lies in a coma, nursed by Lara (Chulpan Khamatova), in the Campus Charité Mitte (CCM) Hospital  in the Mitte district, a large teaching hospital affiliated with Humboldt University and Freie Universität Berlin.

Alex begins a romantic flirtation with Lara and they enjoy their first romantic rendezvous at Eimer (The Bucket) Nightclub, Rosenthaler Straße  68, an underground club founded in 1990 in a squatted house. Its odd name comes from the endless buckets of rubble which had to be carried out before the space was fit to be used as a club.

During the years of its existence, Eimer was a breeding ground for the city’s lively alt-culture scene of artists, bands and DJs, including members of the Spiral Tribe collective.

Outside, the “relentless triumph of capitalism” is symbolised by Coca Cola trucks thundering past the the Neue Wache (New Guardhouse), standing on the north side of Unter Den Linden. Dating from 1816, the German Greek Revival building started life as a guardhouse for the troops of the crown prince of Prussia, but has been used as a war memorial since 1931.

Good Bye Lenin! filming location: World Clock, Alexanderplatz, Berlin
Good Bye Lenin! location: the days count down to Alex's mother's birthday: World Clock, Alexanderplatz, Berlin

When Alex’s mother’s birthday looming, he’s challenged with involving his mother’s friends in the charade. It’s the Weltzeituhr (World Clock) in Alexanderplatz, overlooked by the ever-present Fernsehturm, which is seen counting down the days. This huge revolving cylinder emblazoned with the world's 24 time zones is topped by a model of the solar system which revolves once a minute. It was constructed in 1969 as part of the redevelopment of Alexanderplatz and has understandably become a popular meeting point, which is how it is featured in The Bourne Supremacy.

Alex's problems escalate as he discovers that Mr Klapprath, who’s due to host the party, is falling-down drunk. Alex is obliged to drive Mr K around and around the Strausberger Platz Fountain on Karl-Marx-Allee at  Lichtenberger Strasse, as the old soak sobers up enough to propose a birthday toast.

Wannabe filmmaker pal Denis (Florian Lukas) helps Alex to film a fake news bulletin in front of the old abandoned Coca-Cola HQ at Hildburghauser Strasse 224-232, Lichterfelde. This is the building you may recall being prominently featured in Billy Wilder’s 1961 Cold War satire One, Two, Three, with James Cagney.