Thanks again, pomocon commenters–I benefitted from a fine thread below, learning about a whole slew of films about communism. Of course, one of the questions asked was, why haven’t there been more films about communism? In particular, why have there not been more Hollywood, or-otherwise-well-backed movies about it? Why so few in comparison to those about Nazism/fascism? Now again, spy-movies don’t count, and what we’re really after is movies that show what the communist regimes and/or the societies they produced were like.
One answer is to say that, while there have been tons of films where the Nazis serve as stock-villains, and lots of films on the Holocaust, we seldom ever get ones showing us the Nazi or fascist experience outside of that.
What do folks say to that proposition? What are the films that show us the Nazi or Mussolini regimes without zeroing in, thematically or even in terms of screen-time, on the persecution and mass-murder of Jews (or other hated classes)? There’s no denying that the genocide was integral to the Nazi regime, but there’s more to understanding it than that. If we had lots of prominent films about communism, but 95% were primarily about the prison-camps, my observation would be similar.
Another answer, that one hesitates to suggest given the unhealthy way some folks will latch onto it, is that the prominence and prevalence of Jews in Hollywood explains the imbalance in film treatments of the crimes of Nazism v. those of communism.
But that last factor, albeit a real one, has to be combined with and watered-down by two others: 1) in the 1945-1989 Western democracies, while nearly all viable political factions could heartily agree to condemn the Nazi crimes (whose fullness was uncovered by Hitler’s defeat), they could not so agree about the very reality, nor the propriety of denouncing, the communist ones. So the Nazis became used as both the perfect stock villains for less-serious dramas and action-flicks, and the ideal representatives of totalitarian inhumanity for more serious efforts. Attempts to do either with communists likely would receive resistance for being “controversial.”
And that factor is joined at the hip with 2) the one convincingly supplied by this fine 2001 Reason article “Hollywood’s Missing Movies” by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley, which commenter MPB hipped us to: the Hollywood pattern of avoiding treatments of communist crimes was set by real communist conspiracies at work in Tinsel-town, especially among the screen-writers and the script-evaluators. Projects to do works like Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, a must-read novel that fully exposes the connection of Marxist philosophy to crimes against humanity, were killed in the womb. By Hollywood commies.
But as Billingsley seems to ask, what possibly has been Hollywood’s excuse since 1974, or 1991, by which time the bankruptcy of communism and the extent of its crimes had become undeniable, and much more easily documented? And by when whatever pressure or influence the organized communists actually had had in 30s-50s Hollywood had presumably become minimal? There are hundreds upon hundreds of dramatic true stories, from dozens of nations around the globe, from 72 years of history as opposed to 12, waiting to be cinematically told, to say nothing of the possible true-to-life dramas waiting to be written, such as the Von Donnersmarck script for The Lives of Others.
But instead, what we might call our collective cinematic historical consciousness of communism, has been left quite underdeveloped, and to a great extent this has been, bit-by-aborted-bit, deliberate. And even when this omission has been more the result of an unconscious ignorance or bias, it has been a gross injustice to the memory of the hundred-million who were killed, and of the thousands of millions whose lives were deformed and enslaved. By communists.
I am no expert on Hollywood’s overall political history nor the on the much-debated subject of the communist and anti-communist activity there from the 30s through the 60s. I welcome documented factual correction of anything I have said, or that Billingsley says in that article.
But I do know this: it is an ongoing crime, with no repentance in sight.