The Lives of Others: re-remembering the German Democratic Republic

Anne-Kathrin Reck, Margaret Montgomerie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the period since the popular uprising of 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re-unification of Germany, a range of representations of the GDR have emerged and gained popularity with audiences in the former GDR and the West. This article will investigate the ways in which three films, Good bye Lenin! (Becker, 2003, Germany) , The Lives of Others (von Donnersmarck, 2006, Germany) and Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution (Eltringham, 2007, UK) recall the East German past, invoking memories, or the sense of memory, through an articulation of the detail of the everyday lives of ordinary people. These films are immersed in the discursive practices associated with ‘Ostalgie’, a term coined to characterise the critical, often humorous nostalgia for the life and style of the former East. The article will also explore the use of references to state coercion and surveillance which draws on a set of representational tropes and which continue the West’s Cold War representation of the paranoid and intrusively watchful state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalImage & Narrative
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Ostalgie/ nostalgia for East Germany, film, collective, cultural, surveillance state


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