Limitless Cinema in Broken English

April 9, 2008

SIXTEENTH POLL: LIFE UNDER COMMUNISM

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 10:46 pm

 This is about a poll in my bilingual blog: http://celinejulie.blogspot.com

My sixteenth poll is inspired by coincidences. Recently I have watched a few films concerning leftists, communists, or life under communism—HAVANA: THE NEW ART OF MAKING RUINS, RED PSALM, NOW LET US PRAISE AMERICAN LEFTISTS, and PERSEPOLIS (2007, Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, A+), which has some very interesting supporting characters who are communists.

I have no knowledge in politics, and I don’t even have real interests in politics. But these films are very interesting for me, because all of them are very great, though they may convey the opposite ideas from one another. HAVANA: THE NEW ART OF MAKING RUINS seems to be anti-communist, while RED PSALM seems to be pro-communist. This kind of thing reminds me of many films that I love, though the ideas in the films are very different, such as

1.I AM CUBA + THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES (pro-Cuba or Che) VS. THE LOST CITY + BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (2000, Julian Schnabel) (anti-Cuba or Che)

2.Films by Eisenstein + Pudovkin + Dovzhenko + Dziga Vertov (pro-Soviet) VS. THE SWIMMER + EAST-WEST (1999, Regis Wargnier) (anti-Soviet)

Maybe the difference between Lenin and Stalin plays an important part here.

3.KUHLE WAMPE OR TO WHOM DOES THE WORLD BELONG? (1932, Slatan Dudow, written by Bertolt Brecht) VS. THE FAREWELL: BERTOLT BRECH’S LAST SUMMER

4.SUITE HABANA (2003, Fernando Perez) + BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB + LA TROPICAL (2002, David Turnley) (documentaries about happy lives in Cuba) VS. HAVANA: THE NEW ART OF MAKING RUINS + BALSEROS (2002, Carlos Bosch, Jose Maria Domenech) (documentaries about unhappy lives in Cuba)

Thinking about this, I think I should make a list of my favorite films concerning leftists, communists, or life under communism. Watching all these films, I still don’t understand anything political, but it seems to me that communism in these films has both good sides and bad sides like everything else in this world.

THESE FILMS MAY CONCERN LEFTISTS, COMMUNISTS, OR LIFE UNDER COMMUNISM. WHICH FILM DO YOU LIKE?

1.BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (1925, Sergei M. Eisenstein, Soviet Union)

2.CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION (1996, Peter Duncan, Australia)

3.LA CHINOISE (1967, Jean-Luc Godard, France)

4.COLLECTIVE FLAT (1999, Viet Linh, Vietnam)

5.EARTH (1930, Alexander Dovzhenko, Soviet Union)

6.THE FAREWELL: BERTOLT BRECHT’S LAST SUMMER (2001, Jan Schuette, Germany)

7.LES FEUX DE LA CHANDELEUR (HEARTH’S FIRE) (1972, Serge Korber, France)

8.THE GREAT WATER (2004, Ivo Trajkov, Macedonia)

9.HAVANA: THE NEW ART OF MAKING RUINS (2006, Florian Borchmeyer, Cuba/Germany)

10.I AM CUBA (1964, Mikhail Kalatozov, Cuba/Soviet Union)

11.THE JOKE (1969, Jaromil Jires, Czechoslovakia)

12.LARKS ON A STRING (1969, Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)

13.MAN OF MARBLE (1976, Andrzej Wajda, Poland)

14.THE MOONHUNTER (2001, Bhandit Rittakol, Thailand)

15.NOW LET US PRAISE AMERICAN LEFTISTS (2000, Paul Chan, USA)

You can watch an excerpt of this film from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QDnSTF0V_8

16.RED PSALM (1972, Miklos Jancso, Hungary)

17.STORM OVER ASIA (1928, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Soviet Union)

18.THE SWIMMER (1981, Irakli Kvirikadze, Georgia)

19.TO LIVE (1994, Zhang Yimou, China)

20.THE TRACE OF STONES (1966, Frank Beyer, East Germany)

–I watched NOW LET US PRAISE AMERICAN LEFTISTS at Conference of Birds Gallery. I like it very much, because it seems to criticize the leftists, though it is not an anti-leftist film. I like films which have some conflicting or ambiguous viewpoints like that. Sometimes I get bored with the viewpoint of some films or stage plays, because these films or stage plays portray things as very good vs. very evil, or tell us things we know already, such as “war is bad”, “we should love the minorities”, etc. Sometimes I want to see films which tell me things I don’t know, or films which make me suspicious of what I know, or films which make me accept the fact that the truth or the reality is very complicated. I think NOW LET US PRAISE AMERICAN LEFTISTS is that kind of film I’m looking for.

The opposite of that is HUNGER (2008, Wisarut Chuaypetch, stage play, A+). I like HUNGER very much, though I think the message of this play written by Hope McIntyre is a little bit dull for me. I know already that war is bad, the suppression of the minorities is bad, the government can be totalitarian and unjust, etc. I don’t need this stage play to tell me about this. I totally agree with the point of view of HUNGER, but the stage play seems to tell me nothing new. Anyway, I give it A+ because of the powerful performance.

 

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