Thursday, October 13, 2016


Two - in fact five - for the price of one

Two films, or collection of films, of propaganda!!! The first against wild capitalism but from a populist point of view, progressive or reactionary doesn’t matter, does it? The second for the Soviet Union, as set of agitprop declared as such, beautiful artistically for some of them and supporting a simple point of view, though I must say the use of Gounod’s Ave Maria in the early 60s to show the atrocity of the Vietnam War is an astonishing and bewildering beautiful image.


The film is well built as a thriller. It is also well built as an argumentative film on a highly political subject. To give the list of the subjects it considers is just enough to cover the seriousness of the discourse.

1- The criminal financial manipulation and machination of some big financier who can in one click of a finger hijack 800 million dollars causing a tremendous crash for a company and buying cheap the shares of a mining complex crippled by a strike that is financed by the said financier. That and I should emphasize that “that” into “thaaaaat” financier really does not care about the million of people he has ruined overnight and all the suffering that goes along with it. Of course as soon as he has bought the mining complex he wants he will break the strike by famishing the leaders he more or less bribed and who will then discover there is a second level in the fact the money is in worthless bonds or because he will bring in some private – or public – police force to break these strikers. You know the tactic: “Kill them all, and ask questions afterwards.”

2- The police who are supposed to protect simple people consider that anyone who steps out of the simple path and behavior they are supposed to have and keep is a criminal and once again the same principle comes up: “Kill them all, and ask questions afterwards.” With maybe a slight nuance in color, like “especially if they are dark-skinned.” But that is not shown here.

3- The media are rotten, and yet in front of some emergency, some people, reporters, cameramen or anchorpersons may reveal themselves as heroic and even ethical. Rotten financiers expect these media people to be only interested in the glory and limelight of their position. The police and other bureaucratic armed forces expect media people to stay out of the way and resent when they dare do something that questions their police integrity. Don’t tell me about politicians. Ask François Hollande for one how he likes two journalists publishing his private remark about the judges and other judicial personnel in France being a set of cowards. Let these two journalists have some kind of hideout or even underground shelter. They will not be welcome in the next press conference of the said president.

4- Then the mass of the people are just supporting the one who wins. If it is the criminal they support him. If it is the reporter they support him. If it is the financier they support him. The people are easy to manipulate and to blindfold in some lie and tall tale. They always support the winner. And that’s where the film is weak because the “criminal” is not explored in his real motivations. His pregnant wife is typically covering her backside by rejecting him in an extreme diatribe. The anchorman is not really explored at all, just given as a showman. Around him it is the same. The financier is just bluntly and brutally rejected as the real rat in the granary. And his public relation officer is betraying him and at once runs away from that sinking boat leaving the rat of her boss sink with it.

In fact it is so clear-cut and unquestioning that we could consider that is pure propaganda for populist movements like Podemos in Spain, or Occupy Wall Street in New York. Unluckily it is the same kind of discourse that would be used by the extreme right populist movements all over the world. The difference between progressive and reactionary populist discourses is in the detailed exploration of the motivation of the protagonists. None of that here! In other words the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution is not exactly respected.



This set of four DVDs would have been great if they had not been heavily overloaded with four introductions that are sectarian, one-sided blabbering attempts to make us think that what these films are about is evil, devilish, ugly, despicable, and a few other things like that. All countries are doing that kind of propaganda, some even call it agitprop, which is a dignified genre in literature and theater with among other names Bertolt Brecht but our democrats generally wrap it up in some kind of patriotic and even artistic garb that means something like garment, clothing, wrapping, etc, and has little to do with garbage. Though indeed in reality . . . !

The films are most of them short, more or less short from very short to rather short and they all have qualities due to the techniques used to produce them, the editing used quite freely and the creativity at times to have special effects even before they existed. And do not believe Méliès invented special effect. He invented accidental cut and accidental editing that turned a cow into a tram because the camera had stopped on the cow and had started again on a tram.

We have here real special effects and great editing, without speaking of the animation that is at times frankly creative and even avant-garde, and of the voices and music when there was music (composed by rather inspired composers) and voices after the silent cinema gave way to the talkies. The film on Mayakovsky for example is a great example of animation and voice performing. The moralistic tone might irritate westerners because it advocates Soviet morality and history, but just watch the Walt Disney film on Pocahontas and you will have a remarkable film of colonial propaganda justifying the extermination of Indians, once they had been exterminated. There is no contrition at all about her being forced to marry someone she hardly knew after being abducted, Christianized and having given her knowhow on how to grow and cure tobacco.

Anyone who is interested in animated films and in the history of the Soviet Union has to get these DVDs and watch these films. Just use the menu and jump over the introductory political lessons from some western servile writer.


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