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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mikhail Romm - Ordinary Fascism (the whole movie)

I was maybe thirteen or fourteen when I encountered the name of Mikhail Romm for the first time. I borrowed from the library a book that was definitely too difficult for my age: Sadoul's history of the cinematography (the exact title was Histoire du cinéma mondial, des origines à nos jours, in a Romanian translation). I read it entirely, I understood what I could understand at thirteen or fourteen. I remember that some place in the book Sadoul was mentioning a trio of Soviet directors, seemingly considered by him as the best of the 1930's: Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Romm. So that was my first encounter with Mikhail Romm.

Actually it wasn't my first encounter with him: as a kid I had watched his Admiral Ushakov, only I was too small to take care of such details as the name of the director.

I watched then during my life some of the masterpieces of Eisenstein. I haven't yet watched any of Pudovkin's movies, furtunately I will soon correct this lack in my cinematic culture: I have just bought a dvd with Storm over Asia!

With Romm I met second time in the 1970's when I watched his 9 дней одного года: two young scientists, close friends, are exploring new fields of nuclear physics, while both in love for the same woman; they are played by Batalov and Smoktunovski.

Two years ago I wrote about Mikhail Romm's Ordinary Fascism (Обыкновенный фашизм). I was saying, a movie that made the choice of accusing the Nazi regime by presenting its day-to-day normal life... a documentary made in 1965 using footage from the archives of the Third Reich... the images speak for themselves.

I found today on youTube the whole movie.

The movie was made in the Soviet Union in 1965, and I think it was a very courageous movie. And that because it used footage from the archives of the Third Reich. I don't think using this footage would have been allowed earlier than the 1960's. It is true that the director used this footage to make his point, to demonstrate the evil of Nazism, maybe also the banality of evil. And to make his point, Romm selected the footage and edited it carefully. Add to this the off-comment. However, it was original footage from the Nazi period, and so the public had somehow the possibility to judge for themselves, to get their own conclusions. Watching it now, what it strikes me is the similitude with images from the Communist regime, in the USSR or Romania or wherever. The same enthusiasm on the faces of people gathered in huge demonstrations, on huge stadiums, the same sparkle on the eyes of children, believing in the golden dream, the same sleep of reason. The same mix in small dozes of good faith, self-deception, cowardice, egotism, enthusiasm, despair. Together.

But now, in 2011, I know much more about the evil that I knew in 1965.

(Mikhail Romm)

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