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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

A Russian communist-era movie played on the TV. I couldn’t understand the dialogue, but it was at least passively propagandistic. The main characters, scientists in white lab coats, worked in a sparkling clean high-tech facility, the kind of place science fiction writers of the 1950s imagined were in our future. The movie portrayed an entirely staged idealized version of an advanced communist utopia without gulags, without long lines for potatoes, and without the NKVD. Ukrainians don’t need communist-produced re-runs. They, like the rest of us, need a serious film about Stalinism for a mass audience, a Schindler’s List of the Soviet Union.

- Michael Totten

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ed

    The list of the dead would be too long for cinema, it would makes Dances with Wolves seem like a commercial break. Could anyone make anything by Solzhenitsyn into a film?

    I keep asking myself, for many milliseconds, why the life of Raoul Wallenberg hasn’t been made into a blockbuster film. It has all the ingredients, including a Nobel Prize winning chemist (and another future one, in Denmark, hiding gold from the Nazis by dissolving it in aqua regia).

    But the conclusion one might be driven to, that socialism is evil, is rather hard to convey in a film for some reason.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Reading the Telegraph comments sections on the whole “Russia invading the Ukraine” thing, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a marvelous thing, that it will protect poor innocent Ukrainians from the evil EU, and that we in the UK would be lucky to be governed by that darling strongman Putin.

    I conclude from this that either the Russian web brigades are working overtime putting out on-message blogs and comments, or that there are a lot of idiots in the UK who are so blinded by their hatred of the Eu that they don’t know a proper dictatorship when they see one, or both…..

  • Mr. Ed: Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich was made into a British movie in 1970. And Wallenberg’s story became a made-for-TV move in 1985, starring Richard Chamberlain. The most powerful anti-communist movie I ever saw was L’Aveu, in english The Confession, about the Stalinist purges in late-1940s Eastern Europe. Its continuing unavailability in the U.S. is totally inexplicable, given its star Yves Montand and its director, Costa-Gavras.

  • K

    Good luck getting Hollywood to make anti-communist or even anti-Stalinist movies. It’s tough for them to make fun of people whose “hearts are in the right place”.

  • Pardone

    What they need is more creative, escapist stuff. The Russians, like the British, equate their lack of aesthetic sense and deaf ear for nuance with being above “shallow things”, equating “seriousness” with art.

    They need less “serious” films and much more creative and imaginative stuff to lift them out of the dreary pretentiousness of “seriousness” makes Russia such a dull nation. Pacific Rim may well be the only time in the cinema I have seen Russian utilitarianism look authentically cool (Cherno Alpha).

    Politics has no place in art IMHO, which is why most “serious” politics focused films are creatively bankrupt. What’s creative about telling the audience what to think? Nothing.

  • I’d not encourage it: most lefties would think it an instructional video.

  • Yes JV, maybe they should read this. The whole thing, top to bottom.

  • Paul Marks

    The signs were all there.

    The honouring (by Putin’s people) of the statutes of Lenin in the Ukraine – and the monuments to the NKVD-KGB in the Ukraine.

    Now, I am told, the new history books in Russia have gone back to Soviet history (that the Terror started in 1937 and was mainly against Communist Party people – in reality the Terror started in 1917 and was mainly against tens of millions of ordinary people).

    I despise the E.U. – but better the E.U. (if that is what the people in Ukraine want) than Putin and his state owned oil and gas companies and his Mafia economy controlled (by VIOLENCE) by the FSB.

    I still believe that Mr Snowden made an well intentioned mistake, but it was a mistake. The FSB is not “totally different” from the KGB – they are the same people (from Putin downwards) the words of Mr Owens spring to mind (when asked why he represented the racist United States in 1936)”there is nothing wrong with the United States that Mr Hitler is going to fix”.

    There is nothing wrong with the United States or the Ukraine (where is his fellow members of “the organs” enforced policies that murdered so many millions of human beings) that Mr Putin is going to fix.

    Mr Putin may make a claim that the Crimea is “really Russian” – but that does not mean it is “really the property of the heirs of Lenin – those who defend his statures, honour the KGB, and teach a tissue of lies as Russian history”.

    And Mr Putin has no claim (no claim at all) to the rest of the Ukraine.

    As for Max Keiser (yes I am going to mention him).

    Well my dear – I am sure you hare happy doing your master’s bidding.

    But the moment (the very second) they tire of you, they will dispose of you.

    And “dispose of you” may well be in a literal sense.

  • Baltic Guy

    Yeah Crimea is kinda Russian historically but if I was in Ukraine I would be happy to get rid of that place and a whole bunch of the east really. Maybe the Russian colonists still in Latvia will want to move there, I am sure it is a great place ;-D What is this Max Keiser guy got to do with anything? I googled him as I never heard of him and I still don’t get what he is do with anything.

  • RAB

    Poor Ukraine, between the devil and the deep blue sea, with little gold stars on.

  • Mr Ed

    There’s nothing wrong with the EU or Russia that the Ukraine is going to fix either.

    Odd how there is little media chatter about asking the locals In various areas what they want.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not know what the BBC is doing Ed – but the other stations are asking people.

    In the Crimea (for example) the Ukrainians and the Tartars want to be with Ukraine – but the Russians (the majority of the population) want to be with Russia.

    The Ukrainian force besieged in their home base is in a a bad position. If Putin has a sense of honour he would allow the to leave with their weapons – banners flying. That could be agreed to

    However, he is demanding that they throw down their weapons (i.e. humiliation). That is hard to accept.

    In the early 1950s Ukrainians waged partisan war against the Soviets (as the Baltic peoples also did). However, they were all betrayed by traitors in Western intelligence.

    I doubt that Putin has many such friends now – he is more Mafia thug than Marxist idealist. Indeed Obama is more likely to be a true believer than Putin.

    Although I can not see Obama defending statutes of Lenin and monuments to the KGB.

    Poor Barack is trapped in a role he does not really like (leader of the Capitalist world) – as he would really like to defend all this Soviet stuff, but knows that to do so would destroy him politically.

  • Mr Ed

    Paul, sorry, I meant that the competing factions should ask people what they want, not the media, who need to fill air time.

    This is looking more like Crotia v Yugoslavia 1991 than Slovenia v Yugoslavia at the moment. It is hard not to laugh at John Kerry’s sonorous pronouncements and think ‘Iraq’ ‘Serbia’ etc. at least Russia is next to Ukraine and has the ‘VolksRussen’ pretext as a fig leaf.

  • Paul Marks

    Elections have been called for May – let us see what they produce (if Putin allows them to happen at all).

  • staghounds

    Jesse Owens didn’t say that.

    Joe Louis did, when asked about why he joined the army.

    And he didn’t say “Mr.”.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Putin is holding a referendum in the Crimea near the end of this month.

    I do not think there is any doubt how it will go.

    He probably does not need to rig it – although he will (out of force of habit).

  • ErisGuy

    Dead wrong. Not Schinder’s List., Judgement at Nuremberg.

  • Eric

    Burnt by the Sun (Утомлённые солнцем) is the movie you’re looking for.