Veteran documentary director Leslie Woodhead filmed on the British pop scene since the 60s. He starts 'How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin' by telling how he filmed the four boys in Liverpool in 1962. He did not stop here, catching The Stones in the Park on film in 1969. Then, triggered by the events in Prague in 1968 his attention shifted to the processes in Eastern Europe, to the repression and the hopes, the birth of the Solidarity movement in Poland and the changes that finally led to the fall of the wall in 1989. Lately he was in Srebenica and in Beslan,with the attention still focused in the same geographical space, to be witness to the horrors of the post-communist world. 'How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin' represents the merging of the passion of rock in the first years of his career with the long term obsession with the history of the last decades of the Communist era.
Woodhead's thesis is striking and daring. He says that it is not merely the cold war enemies or the economic situation that led to the melting of the Soviet system, and it was not Gorbachev either. More than everything else it was the four boys from Liverpool, the culture of freedom and the influence they had on the young generations of Russia in the 60s and 70s.
And let me say that I believe that for a large extent he is right. I have lived that period in Romania. I had the walls in my room filled with posters of my rock music idols. I was circulating vinyl music disks obtained on the black market and I was copying music on tapes. I was listening to foreign radio stations and especially to Radio Free Europe, where we, Romanian, had the chance to listen between 1969 to 1975 to the fabulous music that was broadcast by the legendary DJ and professor of rock and freedom who was Cornel Chiriac. I knew none of the people who were interviewed by Leslie Woodhead for the film - Artemy Troitsky, Kolya Vasin, Iury Pelyushonok - fans, musicians, DJs, but I knew their stories because this was the story of my whole generation, a generation which was taught freedom of thought and beauty and joy of life by the Beatles and the rock music that followed, which refused to live according to the rules imposed by the system, and which eventually, when it grew up helped tear down the system. And I do agree with Woodhead when he says (in other words, but this is the meaning) that when thinking at the fall of the Soviet system 'Yellow Submarine' was more important than rockets, and Paul and John played a greater role than Reagan and Gorbachev.
Exaggerating? Just a bit.
In one of the final scenes of the film, in 2004, Paul McCartney eventually made it to Moscow and sang 'Back in the USSR' in the Red Square. People wept. The circle was closed. The Beatles had won the cold war.
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