Monday, December 01, 2008

Alexander Nevsky by Sergei Eisenstein

The movie is really good. It was completed and released in '38, two years after the Moscow show trials and far into the Stalinist dictatorship, where people were being shot for nothing and sent to Siberia because of the failures of an ill conceived economic plan. It has some overt propaganda in it, but mostly has only general Soviet elements in it relating to a number of topics. The interesting thing there, the amazing thing, that has been borne out by anecdotes here and there is that even in '38 under Stalin people still believed in Socialism, despite everything that had happened. It's impressive.

*on edit: this, I think is an important point. It seems that even until Stalin's death, after purge after purge, after the increasing official anti-semitism and the deportation of whole nationalities who were considered to have been unloyal during World War II, people still believed that the Soviet Union played a positive role on the world scene and that it was in the front of the line in the liberation of the oppressed people's around the globe. They still believed in the socialist movement. It seems that in the Brezhnev years this faith in the role of the Soviet Union faded into jaded accommodation to corrupt bureaucrats who became interested in enriching themselves rather than helping any cause of social justice. The disjunction between the perceived good faith of the Stalin years and the bad faith of the post-Khruschev years may be the reason why it's reportedly a common truism that if you interview people in Russia about how they think things are going there will always be an elderly Grandmother who says that everything started to go bad after Stalin.

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