I finally got to see Wolfgang Becker’s 2003 film, Good Bye Lenin!
Continuing to follow the thread of communist packaging—or is it more of a cosmonaut’s tethered space walk that I’m doing, here? After all, the protagonist in the film, Alex Kerner (played by Daniel Brühl, above) grew up idolizing East German cosmonaut, Sigmund Jähn — and the Soviet space race certainly figures into the plot, but it’s really the starring role that GDR packaging plays in this story, that I want to focus on.
Alex’s mother, Christiane has been a coma since just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When she awakens, eight months later…
Her doctor asserts that any shock might cause another, possibly fatal, attack. Alex realizes that the discovery of recent events would be too much for her to bear, and so sets out to maintain the illusion that things are as before in the German Democratic Republic. To this end, he and Ariane [his sister] return the previous drab decor to the apartment, dress in their old clothes, and feed the bed-ridden Christiane new Western produce from old-labeled jars.
from the Good Bye Lenin! Wikipedia Entry
It is the repackaging of Western products into recycled East German packaging that keeps Alex very busy throughout much of the film.
(see more packaging from Good Bye Lenin!, after the fold…)
Above, Alex discovers that the old East German products are no longer available.
As new Western products fill the grocery shelves, Alex contemplates a substitute for Christiane’s beloved Spreewald pickles: a pickle brand from (gasp!) Holland.
After dumpster diving for old bottles and jars, Alex sets to work repackaging his mother’s food, GDR-style, so his mother will not detect anything amiss on her morning breakfast tray.
Beach Packaging Design
1. From Wikipedia: “Alex wears Converse Chuck Taylor shoes, a “capitalist product”, for the whole movie, both before and after the fall of the Wall, and even in front of his mother (interestingly the Converse logo is a red star).” [Note: Box Vox has discussed Chuck Taylor All Stars here and here.]