I find it so odd that Nazism a particularly old sort of fascism still get’s so much attention in pop culture but stuff relating to the Soviet Union and communism doesn’t.I mean I know that a large part of this is b/c Nazism is genuinely evil but consider how the Soviet Union and communism has been depicted in media when we know now that there was a lot of subtly when the Soviet’s did bad stuff (esp.in the post-Stalinist era).Most pop culture depictions of the Soviet union and communism appear in stuff like 007 movies,Red dawn and (in a way) Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons and are from the Cold war era when the .U.S. actively tried to show how bad Communism and the Soviet Union are so as to end them.This seemed to go even into the late 90’s to some extent with movies like* Air Force One* and Salt.Now it’s been years since the Cold war ended and we can be more less politically biased (I assume) and we obviously now have thorough and lots of historical hindsight now as to how Soviet communism was really done.Also there are very much large generational demographics of people who’ve lived through that stuff that we can go to in order to get more accurate depictions of how Soviet communism was really like and there experiences unlike with Nazism and how a lot of the people who lived through that stuff are old and dying off.I for example would like to see a movie remake of Doctor Zhivago (an update from the '65 one) and a movie adaptation of “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin.In general stuff that strongly shows and delves into the implications of such a political ideology instead of just about showing the atrocities commited by a political group.I mean have it be done like in “Schnidler’s list” which I felt hit the balance well of showing not just the horrors of the Holocaust but a very indifferent and pragmatic man like Oscar Schindler who didn’t care much for what Nazism stood for and it’s objectives,always playing in the sidelines until fairly later one when he realizes how terrible he’s been for ignoring the evil that’s been done around him that whole time.However a difference that would have to be noted when trying to hit such a balance of showing subtext and conspicously horrible political doings if there were ever to be a *“We” *movie adaptation and *“Doctor Zhivago” *remake is that these are fictional books unlike *“Schnidler’s list” *which was based on real events.I mean why is it that your more likely to see something as silly as *“Iron sky” *a movie about Nazi descendants having hid on the moon to invade Earth but not a politically neutral and intellectual portrayal of Soviet communism outside of the usual gulag and spy stuff?.
I was a kid in the 90’s and almost all the action movies has soviets as the bad-guys…
Excellent question! Consider that if I commit a bunch of atrocities in geographical locations Q, P & R under banner X (all the while masquerading as a paradigm “for the brotherhood of man”) and am afterwards continuing my world take-over in other parts of the world via much more subtle methods (i.e. subversion), I will always need to keep the public eye on “the bogeyman”—my vicious twin brother—so as to keep attention off my own culpability…especially if it is my group that my vicious twin brother was trying to eradicate. IOW, I have committed the same kind of atrocities that my twin brother did, and I continue to foment more of those atrocities long after my twin brother has been felled. (Connected to your question is this one: why didn’t the American public smell a rat by about 1946, when the Redshirts, who had been our “brothers” during WW2, all of a sudden became personae non gratae #1?)
Key words for you to google in this regard: Gramscianism, cultural Bolshevism, Frankfurt School. Also consider that genocide does not start with a Shoah, it starts with other things that we have seen in spades here in the West:
Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a* coordinated plan of different actions* aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be* disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups*. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group…
Genocide has*** two phases***: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor [this can happen simultaneously, esp. if done thru subversive tactics which the victim group does not recognize as such bec. they have been propagandized in various ways—blinded and lulled to sleep—thus contributing to their OWN enslavement/annihilation]. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and the colonization by the oppressor’s own nationals. (Raphael Lemkin, Shoah Survivor Nueremburg lawyer)
Ask yourself: which group in history was primarily responsible for the rise of the concept of freedom and constitutional government? The easiest way to undermine freedom and constitutional government would be to sponsor—within the target “territory”— (a) the proliferation of groups totally ignorant and/or opposed to constitutional government and (b) policies that destroy freedom and constitutional gov’t. Using both of these tactics simultaneously makes for even quicker and more deadly destruction of the target system/group.
I was a kid in Catholic grammar school and believe me the nuns kept us abreast re. communisim.
The Berlin Wall came down 23 years ago and, I believe, we thought that was the end of that. Simultaneously, the Communist Party in the US stopped putting up a candidate to run for President of the US. Does that mean they all closed up their tents and slouched home? Or did they infiltrate one or both of the major political parties?
The subject of history was also poo-pooed starting in the 60s. It was something left for the gym teacher. Many don’t know what happened, don’t care, think it’s over, or actually believe the Russian Revolution is ancient history. The event isn’t even 100 years old yet.
And now we have a push for workers to stay home. So very communist.
Well, at least the latest (last?) Indiana Jones movie made the Soviets the bad guys.
I think it was best explained by my Poli Sci professor at ASU, who was formerly in the OSS. He said that you have to understand that to those on the left end of the political spectrum, the enemy is always to the right, never to the left. Someone who is far more radical than you maybe not be pursuing his goals in the correct fashion, but he is not that bad a guy, in the viewpoint of a “progressive.” That explains the continued deification by the left of thugs like Che Guevara, Giap, Mao, and Lillian Hellman. “Progressives” still find it hard to call a spade a spade and admit that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Alger Hiss and the SDS/Weather Underground were all genuinely evil people in pursuit of a vile objective that degraded the dignity of humanity and sought to enslave us all, and which was was just as evil as the Nazi menace.
The reverse was not really true of the right, I think - not many conservatives have much nice to say about the extreme right.
The British Sovietologist Robert Conquest wrote the classic study of the Soviet genocide, “The Great Terror.” It was first published while the Soviet Union still existed, and the critics, such as the New York Times, were not kind. They claimed that Conquest’s figures were vastly exaggerated, that the genocidal statements of the Soviet leaders were mere hyperbole, etc.
After the fall of the USSR, the researchers who gained access to the official archives of the Soviet machine learned that if anything, Conquest was too kind, and that the actual death toll was far worse than anything the west imagined.
When the book was reissued in a post-Soviet edition, the publisher asked Conquest if he would like to do an afterward expanding on the new information available. Conquest said no, he thought the original book pretty much stood on it’s own merits. He said he would like to change the title, though.
His publisher asked, “Really, Bob? What would you like to change the title to?”
Conquest replied, “How about, ‘I Told You So, You ****ing Fools.’”
What I’m surprised about is that Russian organized crime syndicates, oligarchs, and corruptocrats don’t show up more in contemporary movies. I don’t get out to the movies much, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of this theme. I dunno, maybe you see some generalized Eastern European thugs sometimes. But these crime syndicates and oligarchs are the direct successors of the Communists. I don’t know if it’s the power vacuum of the '90s that led to this, or the aftermath of 3-4 generations raised in a police state that officially suppressed traditional religion and morality in favor of loyalty to a corrupt and fallible state. Communism may be gone, but it’s still not a happy place. I know some people who got out while the getting was good in the early 90s. The stories they tell… makes me think a lot of the propaganda we were raised with in the 70s & 80s was kind of bogus, but the reality was just as bad, but in different ways.
Americans, by and large, don’t care about life in other countries, unless we can relate it to our own lives. So films set in such locations, and not about American characters who happen to be abroad, face a challenge at the box office. This means Hollywood isn’t much interested in such projects.
As a result, any films about about life in the Soviet Union will likely be independent films or foreign made films. Russia likely has produced many, if you can get your hands on some Russian imports.
Nazi related films likely have perennial appeal because they have come to symbolize evil incarnate due to the Holocaust. That the Soviets committed mass murder on an equal scale during the Stalin era isn’t well known in the West.
In the US, Amazon.com has many Russian-made films. Obviously, they are in the Russian language, but English subtitles are provided. And, unfortunately, most do not fit the time period and subject matter you are interested in.
Here is one which the OP might want to consider: Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears
It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980. This is from Amazon’s description of the movie:
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (edging out such formidable competitors as Kurosawa’s Kagemusha, Truffaut’s The Last Metro and Szabo’s Confidence), Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears is Vladimir Menshov’s enchanting drama of three women struggling to establish themselves in Russia’s huge and often impersonal capital city. Liudmilla, Katerina and Antonina seem to have little in common, but are bound by a deep friendship and the shared dream that in Moscow they will somehow find happiness. Moscow follows their resourceful pursuit of professional and domestic bliss in 1958, then skips foward twenty years to see just how many of their dreams have come true. On one level Moscow works as a free-spirited melodrama in the classic Hollywood tradition, yet at the same time it offers something more. Beneath its charming exterior, the film is a truthful, moving portrait of the plight of women in Russia, depicted over the span of two decades.
That is one of my wife’s favourite movies Dale and is a fabulous movie. I can highly recommend it.
The Soviets committed murder on a greater scale than anyone else. If you look at the Ukrainian famine alone where 6-8 million people were purposefully starved to death, you have to give the medal to the Communists for the greatest numbers of overall murders.
The film The Chekist (1992) (Russian Federation) is a good film to see. Do note that it is graphic in its violence and contains nudity (people are forced to undress before being shot in the back of the head by Bolsheviks). The leading Chekist Commissar even executes his own father in the film, as part of his duty. This is a very powerful work of art.
An English language version of this film on DVD is available.
A more recent film about the Communist authorities in Poland shooting demonstrators (one does not negotiate with the counter-revolution, one shoots) in 1970 is called “Czany Czwartek” or Black Thursday. There is an English language version DVD available.
A good documentary called SOVIET STORY gives a great overview of the genocidal foundations of Communism and its consequences. The documentary gets a little poor at the end, but the first 3/4’s are outstanding. It features interviews with top European academics.
There are many more documentaries and films. You will however have to look at Eastern European cinema for those. Many DVDs are available in English. Krzystof Kieslowski’s first fiction film called “Personel” shot in 1975 uses clever allusions to criticise the Communist group think. It slipped past the censors.
A great metaphor to Soviet oppression is the A. Wajda film “Danton”. While it is a great film about the French Revolution and the fall of Danton at the hands of Robespierre, it provides a view of the 1970s/80s Soviet oppression in Eastern Europe.
You will not find much propagation of these films because you have to remember that while the Nazi Germans were beaten and signed unconditional surrender, the same did not happen with the Communists. They and their apologists/sympathizers are still influential and so films depicting the horrible reality of those times and those regions are not well popularised and not always easy to produce.
George Lucas’s first science fiction film “THX-1138” contains elements that may have been “borrowed” from Zamyatin, among other sources.
Nazis are the perfect boogeymen precisely because they are all dead now and we can pretend that they weren’t also regular guys who took care of their kids, planted gardens and loved their wives. Evil is so much more subtle than Hollywood wants it to be. They portary evil as Darth Vader so that nobody stops to wonder just how evil, say, the HHS mandate might actually be.
The American left (which controls most of Hollywood) is slightly embarassed by the USSR and Mao’s China. They consider it a tragedy that such a good idea was hijacked by such thugs and (IMO) completely miss the lesson that excessive concentration of power in the hands of the government is what created the atrocities. If it hadn’t bee Stalin and Mao, it just would have been somebody else. It is the SYSTEM that is designed for spectacular failure, not just the personalities involved. Leftists still don’t admit that and they ain’t going to make movies that might arguably illustrate it!
I agree with you that persons are not evil, however their actions may be evil.
The desire to view persons in black and white terms is not unique to Hollywood, but is part of human nature. It is why some people think the death penalty is a good idea. They consider some persons are so evil as to be beyond redemption.
Essentially, it is a fairy tale view of the world, with the big bad wolf or “murderers” being evil and the rest of us being sweetness and light. But in fact we are all guilty of some failing and any one of us, no matter how egregious our actions earlier in life, are capable of becoming a saint.
Maybe so. Fact is also that the direct conflict during WWII of American against Nazi makes for great cinema. The Cold War, important and real though it was, doesn’t quite lend itself to cinema so easily. There is a smaller market for the spy thriller than the shoot-em-up war movie.
And now there is a real live conflict currently going on in Afghanistan - and in Iraq until recently. So easier to make movies set in those conflicts instead (and there have been at least a few notable ones - Jarheads, The Hurt Locker, and Three Kings come to mind straight away)
Considering how many Shoah films there’ve been, it would seem there’d be an abundance of material in all of the above ref’d tragedies.
The Russians became the new enemy before the last shots of World War II were fired. The Cold War began immediately. Russian soldiers and pilots, including women soldiers and combat pilots, could not be glorified. The Katyn Forest massacre of Polish troops and even a few religious could not be officially blamed on the Russians because they claimed the Germans did it. Only recently has a monument been erected by the Russians.
Provoking the Russians by depicting say Stalin, in a movie as a mass murderer would not be wise. Or relating the event called the Holodomor where Ukrainians were left to starve to death. Or Stalin ordering the killing of those he felt were a threat to the State, including men in the military and scientists. Details are only now coming out to paint a fuller picture of the attack on Stalingrad by the Germans. A comment was made: “What if you lost a million men during the attack on Stalingrad?” The reply: “We would have sent in a million more.” Just compare the population of Germany to Russia at the time.
Shortly after the end of the war, Churchill asked his military commanders what might occur if the fully armed Russians decided to take over Western Europe. Under “Operation Unthinkable,” elements of the German Army and Waffen SS would have to have been reactivated, but a long, protracted war was predicted. Clandestine flights over the Soviet Union by British and American aircraft began in 1946, even though the head of German foreign intelligence, Reinhard Gehlen, surrendered himself and his Russian files to the Americans at the end of the war, and there was a direct link with the Gehlen Organization and the CIA.
By 1949, The Russians had tested their first atomic bomb. In 1950, using a copy of a British jet engine which was purchased from the British, they immediately put the engine in their MIG 15 and fought along with the North Koreans when the Korean War started in 1950. By 1959, the Russians and Americans deployed ICBMs.
The Cold War just kept getting hotter. After the fall of the Soviet Union, access to Russian wartime files was restricted - some were opened for a while and then closed. Other scholars would get some sporadic cooperation and much of what happened between 1945 and 1991 is still veiled in secrecy. Unfortunately, there were Communist sympathizers in the United States who were very disappointed about the fall of the USSR. New books are starting to reveal the extent of Soviet espionage in the US in the past, which has been largely denied until recently.
Anti-semitism was a big thing in Communist Russia as well.
I doubt you’ll see anything about what went on during the Communist period in movies. The truth will be limited to highly specialized books not aimed at a general audience and documentaries that, again, will see limited release.
I don’t want to start a “who murdered more people” body count thread, but Stalin’s body count was quite substantial. The difference is, we had defeated the Germans - not the Russians, who were our Allies of convenience during the war and our enemy just before the war ended. Yes, there was propaganda published about the evils of Communism but there were Americans who admired Communism as well.
I just read that for the first time, there are more billionaires in Moscow than New York.
The problem with the current media coverage or lack of it is when the boomers die out following generations will have no idea of the evils of communism.
Anti-Semitism was a big thing in Russia before communism. And its still present today. Anti-Jewish attitudes and persecution has deep roots in the history and culture of the country.
As the US has struggled with racism, Russia has struggled with anti-Semitism.
This happens with every generation. Young people are generally unaware of the immediate world history which they didn’t live through as adults. It is a perennial source of consternation among the older generations, who worry that the younger folks don’t have adequate context to understand the world’s current events.
As a child of parents who fled halfway around the world to escape Communism, I have no intention of forgetting or letting anyone around me forget. At the same time, it’s not the job of movies to educate, not to mention they often do a poor job of it.
And there’s no lack of History Channel docos about Communism and books and other material to whet people’s interests.
We’re on the information superhighway. The information is there.