Bizarre mix of analytic documentary and anti-Western propaganda
This 1965 documentary by Mikhail Romm is an excellent example of the special position of film directors in the former Soviet Union, who didn't have to succumb to the economic hardships typically imposed on art by Western market economies. However, the film implicitly reveals the political interventions under which all art suffered under the Soviet system. On the one hand, Romm displays a strong and original will to educate mankind in a Soviet style sense of humanism, which by today's standards appears to be rather naive, if not outright ridiculous. On the other hand the documentary simply brushes aside important historical events in order to (over-)emphasize the undeniable contributions of the Red Army and of Soviet society in general to overthrowing fascism in the Great Patriotic War. There is no mention of 1939's Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, in which Hitler and Stalin divided Polish territory amongst themselves like pieces of pie, no word about the willingness of many Soviet citizens to collaborate with the Nazis because of overwhelming Russian dominance in the USSR, nothing about the fact that Britain's RAF was the only power providing successful military resistance to the Nazi war machine in 1940/41, and the decisive invasion of Normandy is not considered either. The whole war is painted as a primarily Soviet affair. The depiction of US marines as the fascist hordes of the Cold War really puts the icing on the cake, as it puts Americas's troops in the same line with some of world history's most appalling war crimes, for the apparent propagandistic benefits. However, Romm's approach is interesting insofar as it combines the analysis of fascism with sarcastic comments uncovering at least the nature of Hitler's bestial tyranny. However, most of these comments are rather common-place, such as alluding to Goerings plump figure or Hitler's obsessions with dogs and so on. This movie is not a must, but despite its obvious propagandistic tendency it provides the viewer with some interesting insights - not only about the causes of fascism, but also about the nature of Soviet dictatorship as well.
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