ACF Europe #14: Dear Comrades

 

So the ACF series on totalitarianism and cinema continues with our first Russian movie–the best movie of 2020, at that–Andrey Konchalovsky’s story of a young workers’ protest which turned into a Soviet massacre, indeed one so thorough that even knowledge of it, even the corpses of the murdered protesters, were suppressed. The artistic view of this evil deed opposes to ideology the private side of human life–a mother and daughter, the possibility of faith, the importance of burial. The movie is available in streaming and it’s a wonderful contribution to the recent European interest in stories about the evils of communism. @FlaggTaylor and I have talked about a lot of them, and we have some more upcoming!

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Good. There need to be more of these. Just like there need to be more people aware that the “trained Marxist” who cofounded Black Lives Matter just bought her fourth house for $1.4M.

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  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I expected to see the millionaire Marxist on the Bee, but not yet…

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  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I just listened to the whole conversation between you and Flagg Taylor. I won’t call it a podcast, because I don’t listen to podcasts, but I like listening to discussions like that. It was good. I especially liked your comments on how you can’t be evil all the time, even if you’re a KGB guy.  More on that in a bit.

    I’ve watched a few of Konchalovsky’s Russian-language movies, but I have a hunch I’ll like this one better than any of the others.  (By the way, you disagree with Wikipedia about his current age.)  One reason I expect to like this one is that I have long been interested in the story of the Novocherkassk massacre, since long before I got started with Ricochet, and have referred to it many times on social media in connection with current events and controversies.  Later, when it came out in 2012, I watched many of the episodes of the TV series, одножды в ростове (Once Upon a Time in Rostov) which starts out with another take on the Novocherkassk Massacre, and also features a KGB guy who has trouble with his conscience (as well as the general who refused the order to fire on his own people) but I don’t think it’s nearly as deep a portrayal of the issues that Lyudmila deals with in the Konchalovsky film. It drifts off into a local gangster story, and I’m often been curious as to the historical basis for that, if any. There are no English subtitles for that series, so I don’t understand everything people are saying and doing, but some parts are easy to understand from what I’ve read about the historical event. 

    If you and/or Flagg ever have a chance to watch it, I’d be interested to know what you think, though I suppose it would help to understand some Russian. I don’t think all the episodes are available on the internet any more.  I wish I had watched them all when I had a chance, and would be glad to buy a DVD of it if I could find one available. 

    One TV series that I thought gave an interesting treatment to the KGB point of view is Delo Gastronoma No. 1, also based on historical characters and a historical event. I think I detect a desire to please Putin in that series in the way it treats Yuri Andropov, but at the same time it gives a picture of what it was like to get caught up in the system of corruption and have no way out, and it shows the difficult situations in which a KGB officer might find himself. I don’t know if the ending is any more realistic than the portrayal of the Stasi officer in Lives of Others who had enough freedom of action to be able to do what he did without being supervised and watched, but the problems and difficult choices seem to have been real enough, I would think. Religious references in the series are minor and not very deep.  (It’s on YouTube with English subtitles; there are two copies of it on YouTube, one with and one without. I think the English-subtitled one has the awkwardly translated YouTube title, “Trouble in Store.” ) 

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  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Hello, Mr. Reticulator. I thought of you when posting this, as the resident Russo-cinephile–I knew you knew the previous cinematic depiction, in the TV series Once upon a time in Rostov. You’re right about Konchalovsky’s age–born in ’37, past 80. I dunno how I made the mistake, maybe I got it into my head that he was only slightly older than Mihalkov… Thanks for the correction.

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