Soviet-Empire.com U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Active ]
[ Login ]
Log-in to remove these advertisements.

Reds

POST REPLY
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 10737
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 15 Sep 2008, 15:08
I guess I heard about the film back in 2008, when it was revealed as one of the top ten American classic films. Just watched it last night and it was amazing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reds_(film)

"It centers on the life of John Reed, the Communist, journalist, and writer who chronicled the Russian Revolution in his book Ten Days that Shook the World."
Image

"By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master?" - Walter Rodney
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 14444
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 15 Sep 2008, 18:58
Awesome movie is awesome. Although it kinda assumes a familiarity with the characters. Without that you might see Emma Goldman's perspective as that of the marxists instead of anarchists. Other than that it was a great movie.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 341
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Mar 2003, 02:29
Komsomol
Post 18 Nov 2008, 06:14
I love that film. The sequence with the internationale is just great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c13q2wYZr_0

Beatty really tried to capture the mood of the revolution as told by Reed in "Ten Days that Shook the World"
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 282
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Oct 2006, 21:52
Komsomol
Post 18 Nov 2008, 18:45
good movie. I think we had a "red army cinema" topic or something like that. It should be posted there
Image
Soviet cogitations: 397
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Jan 2009, 04:26
Unperson
Post 14 Jan 2009, 05:11
A Maoist-Third Worldist review of REDS by Prairie Fire

Reviewing a few scenes from Reds (Warren Beatty, 1981): Goldman versus Reed versus Zinoviev by Prairie Fire

(monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com)

Reds (Warren Beatty, 1981) is a biographical account of the life of John Reed (Warren Beatty). Reed was a journalist and a communist. He rode with Pancho Villa during the Mexican revolution. He was a cofounder of the American Communist Party. He witnessed the October uprising in Russia. He wrote what is probably the most famous eyewitness account of the days of the October uprising, Ten Days that Shook the World (1919). His account was so famous that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union under Stalin felt obliged to correct some factual errors in the book. According to the movie, he was a one-time prisoner of the White armies who Lenin helped free in a prisoner exchange between the Whites and Reds, “[Lenin] would trade for Reed Fifty professors.” Reed is famously known for being the only Amerikan buried in the Kremlin. Reds is also a love story between Reed and fellow journalist Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton).

Reds garnered twelve Academy Award nominations in 1981. This was more awards than any other film in the previous fifteen years. Warren Beatty was awarded the Oscar for best director for the film. This was the case even though Reds was up against unusually stiff competition, Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981). In 2008, The American Film Institute dubbed it one of the ten greatest movies of all time in the epic genre. (1) During the Brezhnev years, during the Reagan presidency, how it was that Hollywood produced a three-hour movie that is sympathetic to the Bolshevik revolution is a bit of a mystery. It is not a mystery that this critically acclaimed movie was not a success with Amerikan audiences.

Throughout the latter part of the movie, Reed is depicted as being in a permanent state of spiritual crisis over the disconnect between the ideal of the socialism and its reality. Reed confronts this through his encounters with Emma Goldman (Maureen Stapleton), the anarchist, and Gregory Zinoviev (Jerzy Kosinski), the Bolshevik bureaucrat.

John Reed versus Emma Goldman





An exchange between Goldman and Reed:

Goldman: “Jack, we have to face it. The dream that we had is dying. If Bolshevism means the peasants taking the land, the workers taking the factories, then Russia’s one place where there is no Bolshevism.”

Reed: “Ya know, I can argue with cops. I can fight with generals. I can’t deal with a bureaucrat.”

Goldman: “You think Zinoviev is nothing worse than a bureaucrat. The soviets have no local autonomy. The central state has all the power. All the power is in the hands of a few men and they are destroying the revolution. They are destroying any hope of real communism in Russia. They are putting people like me in jail. My understanding of revolution is not a continual extermination of political dissenters. And I want no part of it. Every single newspaper has been shut down or taken over by the Party. Anyone even vaguely suspected of being a counter-revolutionary can be taken out and shot without a trial. Where does it end? Is any nightmare justifiable in the name of defense against counter-revolution? The dream may be dying in Russia, but I’m not. It may take some time, but I’m getting out.”

Reed: “You sound like you are a little confused about the revolution in action, EG. Up ‘till now you’ve only dealt with it in theory. What did you think this thing was going to be? A revolution by consensus where we all sat down and agreed over a cup of coffee?”

Goldman: “Nothing works! Four million people died last year. Not from fighting war, they died from starvation and typhus in a militaristic police state that suppresses freedom and human rights — where nothing works!”

Reed: “They died because of the French, British and Amerikan blockade that cut off all food and medical supplies. And, counter-revolutionaries have sabotaged the factories and the railroads and telephones. And the people, the poor, ignorant, superstitious, illiterate people are trying to run things themselves just like you always said they should, but they don’t know how to run them yet. Did you honestly think things were going to work right away? Did you honestly expect social transformation was going to be anything other than a murderous process? It’s a war EG, and we got to fight it like we fight a war: with discipline, with terror, with firing squads. Or we just give it up.”

Goldman: “Those four million didn’t die fighting a war. They died from a system that cannot work.”

Reed: “It’s just the beginning EG. It’s not happening like we thought it would. It’s not happening the way we wanted it to, but it is happening. If you walk out on it now, what does your whole life mean?”

Reed’s response to Goldman is Mao’s “revolution is not a dinner party.” (2) Anarchists measure existing socialism against ideal utopias. Whereas the idealistic vision is an important component of revolution, of pushing forward the revolution, of raising people’s sights, when such idealism is not combined with materialist analysis, it can become counter-revolutionary. The Goldman in Reds is the contemporary “radical left” of the West.

Revolutions are born in blood. Rejecting the Bolshevik revolution is a rejection of revolution per se. Hence, the anarchist narrative becomes the liberal, Western one: Since revolutions are not possible, positive social change can only happen through liberalism, reformism, gradualism. The “left” no longer believes in the radical reorganization of society to actually reach communism. They neither believe in communism as a real, physical possibility nor are they compelled by it with the strength of a Kantian regulative ideal. “Anarchists” don’t really believe in anarchism. “Communists” no longer believe in communism. And, in the RIM, “Maoists” no longer believe in Maoism. In the First World, the death of the belief in revolution can be attributed to the growth of parasitism. However, revolutionary thought has had a hard time of it in the Third World, too, because of the hegemony of the liberal narrative. Without proletarian state power, with nothing to stand in its way, the liberal, Western narrative about the evils of totalitarianism is unopposed. Even with the Islamic upsurge, much of the so-called “left” buys into the end of history narrative of triumphant, globalized capitalist-imperialism.

Revolutions will never live up to the hopes of Goldman. Real revolutionaries face the reality and inevitability of violence. They engage it; they are obliged to create something from the chaos. They enter the fray and lead. Goldman stands on the edge looking in. She can only criticize the Bolsheviks. She does not even have the courage of her convictions to oppose the Bolsheviks in out-and-out counter-revolution by taking up arms against them. It is no accident that the real Goldman never met up with the anti-Bolshevik leader Nestor Makhno. She admired him from afar, even though she had the opportunity to join him. (3) No doubt, she would have criticized Makhno had she come close enough to be burned by his sun. Perhaps this was a lesson Reed had learned from his rides with Pancho Villa.

John Reed versus Gregory Zinoviev

In Reds, Reed’s adversary within the Comintern is Zinoviev. Zinoviev is portrayed as the bureaucrat par excellence. Reed is portrayed as the idealist within the revolution as opposed to Goldman’s position as an outsider.

At the Comintern, Zinoviev brushes aside the concerns of the Amerikan delegation over whether the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) or Amerikan Federation of Labor (AFL) can be turned into an instrument for revolution. If J. Sakai’s history of the labor movement is correct, then Reed is probably correct about favoring the IWW. The IWW represented the least chauvinistic part of the labor movement in the U$. Perhaps communist focus should have been on the IWW. Zinoviev brushes these concerns aside in favor of moving on to “the national and colonial issue.” Whether the Comintern is correct or not on the IWW versus AFL issue, Zinoviev’s shift of emphasis from the Western, Amerikan worker to the resistance of the oppressed nations against imperialism is correct. Reed briefly resigns over the issue, but returns after he argues with Goldman. Reed, himself spiritually divided, tears up his resignation. Zinoviev and Karl Radek (Jan Triska) welcome Reed back:

Zinoviev to Reed: “Thank you comrade Reed.”

Radek to Reed: “Welcome back comrade Reed. Now you will be able to represent the Amerikan workers at the Fourth Comintern Congress at Baku to inspire revolution among the peoples of the Middle East.”

Zinoviev to Reed: “Prepare for a difficult trip.”

Radek to Reed:“Our only route is through divided territory.”





On the way to Baku through divided territory, a spiritually divided Reed laments over an IWW flyer, over a revolution that seems estranged from himself. This is underscored with a musical leitmotif expressing lament and innocence. In the opening scene after Reed arrives at the Comintern Congress in Baku, he is taken aback by Islamic peoples cheering as they burn an effigy of Uncle Sam. Reed delivers a speech for the Comintern to Islamic peoples in English. As Reed delivers his speech it is translated into several languages. After the translators finish delivering another version to the crowd, the crowd chants “Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!” Reed turns and asks a Muslim, “What is that for?” “They are supporting your call for a Holy War of Islamic people against the Western infidel!” Taken aback, Reed’s health worsens. As they return on a train to Moscow, Reed confronts Zinoviev over the rewriting of his speech:

Reed: “Zinoviev. Did you do the translations of my speech?”

Zinoviev: “I supervised it. Yes.”

Reed: “I didn’t say holy war. I said class war.”

Zinoviev: “I took the liberty of altering a phrase or two.”

Reed: “Yes, well, I don’t allow people to take those liberties with what I write.

Zinoviev: “Aren’t you propagandist enough to utilize what moves people most?”

Reed: “I’m propagandist enough to utilize the truth.”

Zinoviev: “And who defines this truth? You or the Party? Is your life dedicated to speaking for yourself or?”

Reed: “You don’t talk about what my life is dedicated to.”

Zinoviev: “Your life? You haven’t resolved what your life is dedicated to. You see yourself as an artist and at the same time a revolutionary. As a lover of your wife and as the spokesperson for the Amerikan Party.”

Reed: “Zinoviev, if you don’t think a man can be an individual and be true to the collective, or speak for his own country and the International at the same time, or love his wife or still be faithful to the revolution, then you don’t have a self to give.”

Zinoviev: “Would you be willing to give yourself to this revolution..”

Reed: “When you separate a man from what he loves the most what you do is purge what’s unique, and when you purge what’s unique in him, you purge dissent.”

Zinoviev: “Comrade Reed.”

Reed: “And when you purge dissent, you kill the revolution. Revolution is dissent. You don’t rewrite what I write!”

The argument between Reed and Zinoviev is answered in Zinoviev’s favor by an artillery shell hitting the train. Reality comes crashing down, interrupting Reed. Reed finds himself in the middle of a battle between Whites and Reds. The counter-revolutionaries, heretofore an abstraction, materialize along with the reality of revolution for Reed. Reed’s criticisms are in part petty-bourgeois, but also in part true. Echoing Goldman, but also echoing Mao’s “it’s right to rebel!,” Reed yells, “revolution is dissent!” What is the difference then between a Reed or a Mao and a Goldman? The key difference is that Reed, with all his virtues and flaws, is on the train with Zinoviev. Reed’s is a critique of the revolution from within the revolution.

Shortly after, in the final scene, Reed addresses his one time lover, lifelong partner, friend and peer, Louise Bryant from his death bed:

Reed: “Want to come to New York with me?”

Bryant: “New York.”

Reed: “I have a taxi waiting.”

Bryant: “I wouldn’t mind.”

Reed: “What as?”

Bryant: “What as?”

Reed: “What as?”

Bryant: “Gee, I don’t know.”

Reed: “Comrades?”

Bryant: “Comrades.”

His relationship to the revolution, with its ups and downs, its ambiguities, mirrors his relationship to Bryant over the years. Even in the heat of their arguments, Zinoviev never stopped referring to Reed as “comrade.” The revolution should be big enough to handle the criticisms of comrades like Reed.

At this key juncture, the revolution was turning from the West represented by Trotsky to the East represented by Lenin, Zinoviev, Stalin, Mao, Lin Biao and Maoism-Third Worldism. Whatever flaws Zinoviev had, later falling out with Stalin and joining Trotsky, at this juncture, Zinoviev played a key part in putting the International Communist Movement on the right track. With his spiritual crisis affecting his health, Reed dies with an IWW flyer beside him. The flyer is a symbol for the naive beginnings of the movement when all “workers,” Third and First World, were revolutionary. Would Reed have seen beyond himself to see that First World “workers” are reactionary? That they exploit the Third World? Would Reed have been a comrade today? Would he have embraced Maoism-Third Worldism? Reds does not give us enough to answer these questions. Nonetheless, Reds is a provocative movie for our movement.

Notes.

1. HYPERLINKhttp://www.comingsoon.net/news ... p?id=46072

2. Mao Zedong, “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery, it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained, and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

3. Goldman, Emma. My Disillusionment in Russia. New York Doubleday, Page & Company, 1923. HYPERLINKhttp://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/ana ... /ch21.html
Soviet cogitations: 283
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Apr 2009, 02:31
Unperson
Post 29 Apr 2009, 18:37
I did not enjoy this film. It's basically the leftist version of that abominable film "Doctor Zhivago". If you like films like "Reds", then consider watching the dozens of films about revolutionaries by Russian directors.
"Mama, I've sworn to myself not to chase girls until we've knocked off the bourgeoisie in the whole world."---Pavel Korchagin
[+-]
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 9187
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 Mar 2005, 20:08
Embalmed
Post 02 May 2009, 21:32
It was soooo looooong aaaannnddd booooorrrriiiiinggg.... I bailed at about halfway through.
Image

"Bleh, i don't even know what i'm arguing for. What a stupid rant. Disregard what i wrote." - Loz
"Every time is gyros time" - Stalinista
Soviet cogitations: 3448
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 03 May 2009, 00:44
Quote:
Zinoviev: “Your life? You haven’t resolved what your life is dedicated to. You see yourself as an artist and at the same time a revolutionary. As a lover of your wife and as the spokesperson for the Amerikan Party.”


You know that intentonally misquoting a source is considered one of the highest acts of intellectual dishonesty?
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 2377
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Apr 2009, 23:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 18 Jun 2009, 02:35
Don't you mean lowest?
Soviet cogitations: 283
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Apr 2009, 02:31
Unperson
Post 14 Aug 2009, 04:41
Quote:
The sequence with the internationale is just great

There is nothing special about this particular scene. The technique of incorporating revolutionary and folk songs into the plot is a characteristic of Soviet Russian cinema ripped off by the makers of "Reds". Only someone who has no familiarity with socialist cinema would be amazed by a relatively mediocre film "Reds".

One of countless examples Russian cinema's use of revolutionary songs in the plot is in the 1934 film "The Youth of Maksim", the first volume of the Maksim trilogy. In this scene, Maksim and his comrades in jail sing the "Varshavianka" as they protest against the tsarist torturers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKlCYELWfJM
"Mama, I've sworn to myself not to chase girls until we've knocked off the bourgeoisie in the whole world."---Pavel Korchagin
[+-]
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4032
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Oct 2006, 23:10
Politburo
Post 14 Aug 2009, 05:51
I didnt really like this film either.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 14444
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 14 Aug 2009, 08:41
Hot damn! We're neck deep in pretension around here.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 341
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Mar 2003, 02:29
Komsomol
Post 07 Sep 2009, 04:25
^seriously

Quote:
There is nothing special about this particular scene. The technique of incorporating revolutionary and folk songs into the plot is a characteristic of Soviet Russian cinema ripped off by the makers of "Reds". Only someone who has no familiarity with socialist cinema would be amazed by a relatively mediocre film "Reds".


Well you're quite wrong here, as I'm quite familiar with socialist cinema as a matter of fact, but that's also quite irrelevant to this discussion.

The sequence itself is a rarity in US cinema, especially in a time like the 80s. One of the most famous revolutionary songs being used in a montage that depicts the Russian revolution in a positive light. I think it's a good sequence and an important one. The director has described himself as a "class traitor" (i.e. a traitor to the bourgeoisie).

He isn't a socialist or communist however, but the sequence is still good in my opinion.
Image
Soviet cogitations: 283
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Apr 2009, 02:31
Unperson
Post 17 Sep 2009, 22:24
Quote:
...one of the most famous revolutionary songs being used in a montage

A scene from the 1950s film "Stories of Lenin" has a political meeting where The Internationale is sung. There are countless Russian films that incorporate folk songs into the plot, a technique that is obviously copied by Reds.

Another example is this scene from the Ernst Thalmann films which has a demonstration with "Song of Solidarity" in the background.

Quote:
The sequence itself is a rarity in US cinema

Most U.S. cinema is rubbish.
"Mama, I've sworn to myself not to chase girls until we've knocked off the bourgeoisie in the whole world."---Pavel Korchagin
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 341
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Mar 2003, 02:29
Komsomol
Post 21 Sep 2009, 19:16
Quote:
A scene from the 1950s film "Stories of Lenin" has a political meeting where The Internationale is sung. There are countless Russian films that incorporate folk songs into the plot, a technique that is obviously copied by Reds.

Another example is this scene from the Ernst Thalmann films which has a demonstration with "Song of Solidarity" in the background.


And your point? You can point to quite a few French and Italian films (at least) where the Internationale is present. This isn't any sort of counter-argument/point.

Quote:
Most U.S. cinema is rubbish.


Right a lot of US cinema is of poor quality, but I also don't see the relevance here.
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 341
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Mar 2003, 02:29
Komsomol
Post 15 Oct 2009, 07:12
By the way, I just posted a little thing about Reds on my new blog:

http://leftisminfilm.wordpress.com/2009 ... reds-1981/

What do you guys think?
Image
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 258
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Oct 2009, 17:50
Komsomol
Post 17 Nov 2009, 23:42
Dear comrades, I watched Reds yesterday night. My expectatives were high and I was disappointed. It is a good movie full of intelligent viewpoints (like most of those expressed by comrade Reed, though he is made talk so quickly that I doubt about the educational effectivity of most of his talks in the movie) about a very unusual topic for the US film industry, much, much better than the usual American and Italian trash the television and cinemas broadcast in Italy, without any doubt much better. But it contains a big amount of criticisms to revolutionary necessary policies that disappointed me and made me see similarities with bourgeois stereotypes, towards which idealistic utopianism converges, against the factual establishment of socialism.
Disappointing if I consider what I expected, but much better than most things one has the opportunity to see in my country, and in most capitalist countries as well, I think.
If you tremble at the slightest indignation done to a fellow human, then you are my comrade-in-arms. Commander E. Guevara de la Serna
Soviet cogitations: 124
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 Mar 2012, 00:06
Unperson
Post 19 Mar 2012, 00:21
Nobody saw the exact reason why John Reed died. I think he was poisoned during those days when Stalin became paranoid of American citizens. I think he was suspected to be an American spy that is why he died. He also fell into a honey trap. Those lovemaking scenes were made when John was having doubts about life in the Soviet Union. He tried to escape through a manually driven train cart (or whatever you might want to call it).
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 10737
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 30 Apr 2012, 15:14
AlmaAta wrote:
I think he was poisoned during those days when Stalin became paranoid of American citizens.


Lenin was still alive, Trotsky was in charge of the military, and throughout the Great Depression the USSR "imported" thousands of American citizens to deal with their labor shortages. So...
Image

"By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master?" - Walter Rodney
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 172
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Feb 2012, 16:12
Ideology: Left Communism
Pioneer
Post 03 May 2012, 14:27
AlmaAta wrote:
Nobody saw the exact reason why John Reed died. I think he was poisoned during those days when Stalin became paranoid of American citizens. I think he was suspected to be an American spy that is why he died. He also fell into a honey trap. Those lovemaking scenes were made when John was having doubts about life in the Soviet Union. He tried to escape through a manually driven train cart (or whatever you might want to call it).


Dude, we know you're either nuts, a troll or both... But seriously, WTF? That's stupid.

In 1920-21, factional struggles inside the Bolsheviks were not unsurmountable: Yes, Trotsky and Stalin didn't like each other much (Never did, actually). But they were not yet plotting to depose or murder each other. Had Lenin lived 10 years longer (without having the strokes), it's perfectly possible they wouldn't have started plotting at all!

While Lenin was alive, he commanded enough personal influence to thwart attempted faction wars. Trotsky was disinclined to start a Bonapartist coup (He didn't even try before getting kicked out of the USSR). Stalin didn't even start sacking dissident Bolsheviks ¡n earnest until circa 1926-27. The very idea of having one's dissident comrades murdered was pretty much verboten until 1932 or so: When Bukharin contemplated a coup (against Brest-Litovsk) in 1918, he was dead against killing Lenin and Trotsky. When Stalin defeated Trotsky in the faction wars of the late 20s, Trotsky was kicked out, not murdered. When Lenin/Trosky wanted to get rid of Stalin-as-GenSec in 1923, they didn't even want to kick him out of the party!

Reed wasn't the Pentagon's man in the USSR: He was very much the Smolny's chief American supporter. The idea that Stalin (who didn't kill Trotsky in 1929) woulda murdered Reed in 1920 is ludicrous. Stalin did lots of bad things, sure, but killing Reed wasn't one of'em.

Besides, it ain't like death by infection during the Russian Civil War is particularly unusual: It's certainly more plausible than hypothetical Stalinist conspiracies pre-1928.
Cm'on baby, eat the rich!!! - Motörhead
Alternative Display:
Mobile view
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Soviet-Empire.com. Privacy.