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GOODBYE LENIN!

Good Bye LeninGOODBYE LENIN! – 2003
Bavaria Film International
Director: Wolfgang Becker

good bye Lenin good-bye-lenin-!
This genuinely charming movie stars the handsome, and talented, Daniel Brühl, as Alex. Daniel BrühlHe’s the son of Christiane (Katrin Sass – who doesn’t really look old enough to be his Mam), though it is implied that she was taken advantage of by the absent father who fled ‘West’.  Alex daydreams occasionally about the Da, usually imagining him very rich and driving a huge Merc. Said Father turns up in the course of the action, and while well-off[ish], isn’t super-rich. I don’t know which side of the Wall the makers come from, but this is a quite sharp point, the Eastern media tell the populace that the West is US-occupied, poor and backward: meanwhile everybody really thinks that ‘Wessies’ have money goodbye-lenin-1squirting out their ears.
The comedy consists in the fact that some days before The [Berlin] Wall comes down Christiane has a heart attack, and is hospitalised. She sees her son taking part in a protest march, mainly about the fact that the Wall is still standing,  he is struck by an ‘Ossie’ cop. Her response has partly to do with the fact that, as a True Believer, she thought that such brutality only happened in the oppressed West.
While she is in hospital, seen as ‘state-of-the-art’ modern, there’s no ‘Ostalgia’ but no denegation of the ‘system’ either – the Wall is broken down.  Alex and his techie-nerd friend Denis (Florian Lukas) conspire, when his mother

Florian Lukas

GOOD BYE LENIN!, Florian Lukas, Daniel Bruhl, 2003, (c) Sony Pictures Classics

is released from hospital, with the warn-ing that a shock, or even mild surprise, could kill her, to pretend that the ‘East’ (GDR – German Democratic Republic) still exists. It gets harder and harder by the hour, even foodstuffs are dumped, and Alex has to hoke about in garbage to find the bottles and labels from the old days. Fortunately for him the ‘old days’ were not so long ago though his mother was in hospital for months after the Wall came down.
Fortunately the taste of the food is unchanged (possibly another indication that not everything ‘Ossie’ was questionable.)  This is acceptable now, but fifteen years ago when this movie was made it was seriously ‘pushing the envelope’ to even hint at such a matter. Alex gets away with a lot, his friend Denis making videos of fake television news items and delivering them in a dreadful plasticky suit presumably of the sort worn by ‘Eastern’ media persons, which they play to his mother. She, inevitably, learns how to use the channel changer and, becomes very confused by what she sees.
They ‘lose’ the implement.
As she gets less fragile, she decides to have a wander outside, and is very confused by what she sees. There are ‘Western’ cars, clothes, and people: one piece of furniture, about to be moved into their block of flats, has an image of the Sacred Heart sitting on a shelf. She asks a young man moving this furniture where he comes from, and he answers “Wurtemburg”, which borders the Rhine. She is totally confused at this, but is returned to the hospital. Alex decides that the news film she views must be doctored. He and Denis show her the breaking down of the Wall – but imply it was Wessies escaping into East Germany that was happening. This stretched one viewers credibility somewhat; it is doubtful if there was much in the way of graffiti on the eastern side of the Wall. But the Western side was heavily graffiti’d. She swallows the notion that the crowds running away from the Wall westwards were actually fleeing eastwards. And the people from, for instance, Wurtemburg are refugees from the benighted West.
She dies shortly after this, Daniel Brühl manages to look simultaneously businesslike and ‘little-boy-lost’-like (like most adults, in a similar situation I assume; you wouldn’t mind a “wee greet”. But matters have to be taken in hand…).
This is a lovely, funny, humane film, see it, you’ll have a lot of laughs, a wee sniffle (or two). For Gay men there is also the prospect of seeing Daniel Brühl in his longish black gunks, (underpants, for the uncultured) he has smooth pale skin and slender, but athletic body. Don’t cheat and flick through the DVD just to see it. Anyway, it’s worth the wait.
Joe Dalton

 

Links:

Novel Ideas – Roger Casement

Jeffrey Dudgeon with his lovely tieJeffrey Edward Anthony “Jeff” Dudgeon MBE is a Northern Irish politician, historian (his books on Roger Casement are extremely well researched and very readable)  and gay political activist. He currently sits as a Ulster Unionist Party councillor for the Balmoral area of Belfast City Council.  He is best known for bringing a case to the European Court of Human Rights which successfully challenged Northern Ireland’s laws criminalising consensual sexual acts between men in private. He is currently one of three openly gay politicians elected to the City Council along with Mary Ellen Campbell of Sinn Féin and Julie-Anne Corr of the Progressive Unionist Party

 

The following extract from an interview in The Irish Times, gives an insight into Jeffrey, who he is and what he has become…

“I’ve always been a reformer. A rebel and a radical, yes, but I wasn’t a revolutionary,” Dudgeon says, looking back on his 1981 victory in the European Court of Human Rights, which decriminalised homosexuality in Northern Ireland.

What was life like, as a young gay man, before the Strasbourg win? Dudgeon sums it up in one word: isolation.

“I knew all about homosexuality, and by my midteens I had ascertained that fact about myself. But I just didn’t know how to meet other people, and I was petrified at the thought of it. You just couldn’t say the words to anyone.”…

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Unknown Roger Casement letter 6208307701_1f5a8d9937_b Roger Casement Diaries

In the video below Ciarán Ó Brolcháin discusses with author Jeffrey Dudgeon and Dr. Margaret O’Callaghan the book – “Roger Casement: The Black Diaries” which explores the life of Roger Casement – a study of his social background, political life and his contribution to Irish political life.

 

 

The Irish vote for gay marriage reverberates through Germany

The Economist – Jun 20th 2015 | BERLIN | From the print edition

German same-sex unions

At the end of the Regenbogen

The Irish vote for gay marriage reverberates through Germany

SINCE Ireland voted in May to allow same-sex marriage, Europe has had a clear divide: liberal in the west but more illiberal going east. Germany is in the middle. Since 2001 gay and lesbian couples have been able to enter civil unions, and 35,000 have done so. They enjoy the same rights as heterosexual spouses for tax and inheritance. But same-sex couples do not have full adoption rights, and their union is not called marriage.

Many Germans find this embarrassing. A 2013 poll found 74% in favour of full marriage rights for homosexuals. So are the opposition Greens and Die Linke (The Left) in parliament, as well as the Social Democrats, the junior party in the ruling grand coalition. The upper-house Bundesrat, where these three parties have a majority, recently passed a non-binding resolution urging the government to make marriage available to all.

That was largely symbolic, because of opposition within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right block, consisting of two “Christian” parties: her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the more conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union. The phrase “Christian union” came from a post-war confessional alliance between Catholic and Lutheran parties from the Weimar Republic. But conservatives now invoke Christian values to argue against same-sex marriage. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the premier of Saarland, who is often touted as a possible successor to Mrs Merkel, recently argued that if you allow gay marriage, incestuous or polygamous nuptials might be next.

Yet within the CDU attitudes are changing. The defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, another possible successor to Mrs Merkel, this month told the party’s executive committee that “something fundamental has changed in society.” If Irish Catholics can relax about gay marriage, so can German ones, says Jens Spahn, a gay member of the committee. Mrs Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has been coy but is thought to be tolerant in private. She visibly squirmed when asked during the 2013 campaign to explain her party’s rejection of gay marriage. But she knows she has moved the CDU leftward in the 15 years she has led it. Many blame her for the emergence of a new party on the right, the Alternative for Germany, which attracts disgruntled former Christian Democrats.

Such objections are tactical, says Alexander Vogt, leader of the gay-and-lesbian club within the CDU. As is her wont, Mrs Merkel chooses battles carefully. Right now—with Grexit, Brexit and Ukraine—she faces many. She might also like to keep gay marriage alive as an issue to concede to the Greens, whom she may prefer as a coalition partner after the 2017 election. One way or another, says Mr Vogt, Germany will have same-sex marriage soon afterwards.

LGBT Remembrance at Belfast Cenotaph

Those who gathered to remember past LGBT people persecuted for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Photo: Simon Rea.

Those who gathered to remember past LGBT people persecuted for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Photo: Simon Rea.

This morning about ten to eleven, a number of members of the LGBT community from the city of Belfast gathered to stand in solidarity and remembrance for all those in Germany, and all nations who lost their lives or were imprisoned for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The short simple act of remembrance was instituted and organised in the past by PA MagLochlainn, who died about this time a year ago. This year, Andrew Smyth from Cara-Friend organised the event and we were pleased to support it.

We heard from a number of readings including an extract from The Men with the Pink Triangle by Heinz Heger which was read by John O’Doherty of The Rainbow Project.

The prisoners’ uniforms were marked with a coloured cloth triangle to denote their offence or origin.

Yellow for Jews, black for anti-socials, red for politicalise, purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses, green for criminals, blue for emigrants, pink for homosexuals, brown for gypsies.

The pink triangle, however, was about 2 or 3 centimetres larger that the others, so that we could be clearly recognised from a distance. (from The Men with the Pink Triangle)

A wreath in the shape of a pink triangle was laid at the Cenotaph by Jeff Dudgeon and Andrew Smyth and we stood together in silence to remember those that suffered at the hands of the Nazis and all who have suffered persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.