Monday, March 27, 2006
The Death and Birth of Soviet Europe
Curzon's rumination on post-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus and the strange death of Slobodan Milosevic got me thinking about post-Soviet Europe generally. Film can be a good of narrating history, so here are five films that tell the story of Soviet Europe, from its tragicomic end to its terrible birth.
Synopsis: An armed monkey accidentally liberates disoriented Serb WWII vets from a kleptocratic arms smuggler. Corrupt UN peacekeepers and "Nazis" litter the landscape.
Opinion: Hilarious, truly sad, and amazingly symbolic, it originally aired on Serbian TV.
"Here we built new houses
with red roofs and chimneys where storks will nest.
With wide-open doors for dear guests.
We'll thank the soil for feeding us and the sun for warming us.
And the fields for reminding us of the green grass of home.
with pain, sorrow, and joy, we shall remember our country,
as we well our children stories that start like fairy tales
Once upon a time there was a country..."
Opinion: Demonstrated that war is politics by other means. Originally aired on BBC and the Discovery Channel.
Synopsis: Communism falls, but the old are too weak to take it. A loving son pretends to live in the corrupt deathwatch of Stalinism.
Opinion: A country jumps 50 years into the future.
Timeframe: late 1940s
Synopsis: A murder in Allied-Occupied Austria... but who is the 3rd man?
Opinion: Take The Quiet American, and replace 1950s Saigon with 1940s Vienna. Good in an academic sort of way. Watch The Quiet American instead.
Timeframe: May 1945
Synopsis: A hopeless insurgency destroys the lives of Poles. A victorious Communist Party prepares to destroy more.
Opinion: Originally aired in Poland during the 1950s. Very human characters and some interesting cinematography.
Good rundown. I think I'll rent Goodbye Lennin. Maybe we should work on "Geography of Movies" sometime!
Posted by: Catholicgauze | Monday, March 27, 2006
Hmmm... perhaps you can tie this into Curzon's "Mapping the Gap" series,  and look on a Barnettian Geography of Movies...
It's not as crazy as it sounds. See Barnett's references to 1930s-50s-eras movies in India and China.  Hmm... perhaps if that does Map the Gap, and the Gap is the expeditionary theatre of the Global War on Terrorism,  it could even be published in Small Wars Journal!  :-)
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, March 27, 2006
Found this nifty site  off of grapeshisha . Divided by total population I bet a lot of these would make good maps of the Gap, too.
PS: Congrats on the CA props! 
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, March 28, 2006
"Synopsis: An armed monkey accidentally liberates disoriented Serb WWII vets from a kleptocratic arms smuggler. Corrupt UN peacekeepers and "Nazis" litter the landscape.
Opinion: Hilarious, truly sad, and amazingly symbolic, it originally aired on Serbian TV."
I'll add: terriffic soundtrack, but best viewed as Serbian propaganda. I watched it with a couple of friends fresh out of research and/or work in the Balkans. They were appalled.
Posted by: Dan Nexon | Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The visuals are amazing too.
Underground is sympathetic to Serbs, but seems very critical of the Serbian government. Lady of tdaxp, who hails from China, especially noted the very critical references to the Communist Party. The arms smuggler, whose actions (the narrator says) led to Tito being distraught and then ill, would appear to represent the post-Tito Yugoslav government. The Monkey appeared to be Milosevic.
Throughout the citizenry the escapees interact with (Bosnians, "Ustashe," etc) are fully innocent. When I watched it, I was surprised that the Serbian government allowed it to be shown.
Am I misinterpreting it?
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, April 04, 2006