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Fractured families united countries? Family, nostalgia and nation-building in Das Wunder von Bern and Goodbye Lenin!

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This article compares the role and construction of nostalgia in two of the most successful German films released in 2003, Das Wunder von Bern and Goodbye Lenin! While both films portray a close connection between male adolescence, incomplete families and nostalgia for a simpler past, Goodbye Lenin! exposes this view of East Germany as an artificial and largely fictional construction, whereas Das Wunder von Bern attempts to create a sense of authenticity for its nostalgic recreation of 1950s West Germany. Despite this significant difference, both films are shown to pursue a common ideological project: their narratives are focused on a nostalgic farewell to the past in order to develop a positive attitude to the future of a re-unified Germany. To this purpose, both films' central characters and their families are presented as representative, allegorical embodiments of German culture whose development in the course of the narrative functions as a model for the audience.
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Keywords: Post-unification German cinema; Snke Wortmann; Wolfgang Becker; national identity; nostalgia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nottingham.

Publication date: 2007-11-07

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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