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posted by Kate Marie | 6:20 PM | Permalink
What a weird article. The author finds as many anti-communist movies as anti-nazi movies, but this does not satisfy him because "considering that National Socialism lasted only 12 years in one country (and those it occupied), and Communism spanned half the globe for 75 years, you'd think there'd be lots more stories to tell about Communist rule." Except lasting X times as many years in power or killing X times as many people does not equal X times more interesting. Movie writers do not limit themsleves to telling the stories that are out there, but invent stories as it strikes their fancy. The Nazis came pretty close to destroying a good chunk of western civilization, which gives them a considerable edge as far as the scare factor goes. Anyway, countries which have interacted with communism more directly have produced a good number of movies in the recent past which may be classified as anti-communist. I'm thinking particularly of The Lives of Others in Germany, Burnt by the Sun in Russia, as well as the recent release of Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle.
Hey Alex, First, thanks for the film recommendations. I'll look for them the next time I rent a movie."Movie writers do not limit themsleves to telling the stories that are out there, but invent stories as it strikes their fancy. The Nazis came pretty close to destroying a good chunk of western civilization, which gives them a considerable edge as far as the scare factor goes."-- But I think it's a fair question why the stories of communist oppression don't seem to have struck Hollywood's fancy, especially since the Nazi atrocities/Holocaust movies don't necessarily rely on a "scare factor" but rather on the inherent drama and tragedy of the stories that the horrors of Nazism generated.There are a lot more movies about Nazism than the author mentioned, of course (and maybe a few more about Communist dictatorships), but for an industry that prides itself on innovation and novelty, it does seem odd that the horrors of Communism have been relatively ignored, while the movie industry seems endlessly fascinated with McCarthyism (how brave to do yet *another* movie about McCarthyism 50 years after its heyday) and seems to love churning out hagiographies of Che Guevara and cinematic love letters to Pablo Neruda (of "Ode to Stalin" fame).I liked the article, too, because it mentions one of my favorite screenplay ideas (I live in Los Angeles -- everybody has at least one screenplay idea). If I had the money and the contacts, I would snap up the rights to Witness and write a screenplay, get Russell Crowe to play Whittaker Chambers, and take the Oscars by storm. I promise to mention you in my acceptance speech, Alex. :)
But I think it's a fair question why the stories of communist oppression don't seem to have struck Hollywood's fancy, especially since the Nazi atrocities/Holocaust movies don't necessarily rely on a "scare factor" but rather on the inherent drama and tragedy of the stories that the horrors of Nazism generated.My mention of the "scare factor" was only an example to point out how naive the analysis in this article is. If we are going to measure movies per year per million deaths, I think east timor is close to the bottom. This does not really require any explanation, beyond noting that we obsess more over bad guys that we have personally interacted with. More with the Nazis, with whom we fought a "hot" war, than with the Communists with whom we fought a cold one; and more with the Communists than with Turks in Armenia; and more with Armenia than with the slaughters in Aceh, East Timor, and so on. Our cultural history provide the obvious explanation, and the Nazis loom larger in it, both because so many Americans went to fight in WWII, and because as I mentioned the Nazis were not too far away from winning. Ditto to McCarthyism - because it occurred here, it will inevitably play a greater place in our collective memory. As for Che, he seems to have a role in world culture perhaps completely disproportionate to his actual historical significance. Motorcycle Diaries, for example, was a big international production.
Alex, This article didn't really strike me as an analysis. It seemed like the author wanted to make a few observations about the relative dearth of movies about Communist atrocities as a way of leading to a statement that there *should* be more movies about the victims of Communism. And I agree with him that there should be.Now, whether there's anything other than cinematic provincialism going on with the lack of Hollywood depictions of Communist atrocities, I don't know. I do think that, in general, Hollywood movies have treated Communist-apologists and outright Communist spies and murderers with more "nuance" than they would ever dream of using in their treatment of Nazi-sympathizers.
This article didn't really strike me as an analysis. My feeling is similar: the article didn't strike me as much of an analysis. At least we can agree that one has to do a lot more work before plausibly claiming that there are too few communist movies out there, relative to other political systems. By the way, you may find this of some interest.
Hey Alex,Thanks for the link to that blog item! Unbelievable. That kind of stuff is exactly what I'm talking about. I have no empirical proof, but my sense of things is that Julie Christie's position isn't as much an outlier in Hollywood as I might wish it to be.Oh, well. I never expect "artists," or even artists, to be especially moral or even especially thoughtful, so it comes as little suprise. The movie business, especially, must attract (or create?) people who have an extremely inflated sense of their own importance and of the importance of the moral and political fashions they like to try on.What's interesting, though, is that -- at least in some quarters of society -- Communist chic seems to have become outdated. So Hollywood is arguably behind the times.
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