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Friday, October 01, 2010

Yaldei Stalin - Stalin's Disciples

Yaldei Stalin (Stalin's Disciples), a movie made in 1986 by Nadav Levitan, an Israeli director who passed away this year.

My friend Dan offered me the DVD with this movie and I would like to thank him here for the gift. It's a wonderful movie, mixing satire and empathy. A satire both kind and subtle.

A satire of the kind of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (La Muerte de un Burócrata); much milder, though.

It is a kibbutz of the fifties, controlled by a group of sympathetic lunatics who believe unconditionally in Stalin and Communism.

Stalin just died and his epoch will go to hell soon; nonetheless they continue to live that epoch. The other people in the kibbutz begin to free themselves of the past. They had always tried to cheat the rules, by the way (as the epoch was supported basically by a mix of lies); now they begin to realize that the rules are no more, that the lies were just lies.

It doesn't matter: our heroes continue to live the past. You can show them the Moon on the sky: they will see the Hammer and Sickle.

As I said, the satire is kind; the guys are just a bunch of lunatics; it's impossible to not love lunatics.

And the satire, as kind as it is, has a lot of subtlety: it is not only about Stalinism here: the epoch that passed was the one of the Kibbutzim, too, and our heroes wear comical Stalinist mustaches, along with hilarious wild haircuts that send our imagination right to Ben Gurion, to the enthusiast pioneers who built a country in the desert. That epoch was also of genuine enthusiasts. But past is just that, past: it means it's no more.

And the empathy of the author for his heroes is perfectly understandable: the director spent his youth in a kibbutz, and the memories of your youth are always nostalgic.

(Israeli Movies)


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