Nov 22, 2007

The Red and the White


I have the horrible misfortune of generally holding Marxist films as the most important. Russian-Hungarian co-production The Red and the White directed by Miklós Jancsó is a fine example. Over the years, I have come to hate most War Films(especially American War films). I especially have no respect for so-called antiwar films like Platoon(Oliver Stone trying to prove he's a man) and All Quiet of the Western Front(good old Lewis Milestone AKA Lev Milstein). Milestone later went on to make pro-war American propaganda films such as A Walk in the Sun and Halls of Montezuma.

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The Red and the White is not like the typical American war film(or War film in general). The film takes place during the Civil War of 1918 in central Russia at the height of Bolshevik barbarianism. The film takes a realist approach which ends up becoming surreal. The gathering of human cattle to be shot becomes especially interesting when decisions are made on who gets it first. The killings are repetitive but never boring. The Red and the White holds shots longer than even most Italian Neo-Realist films would. I always enjoy when I can actually get into a scene before almost having a seizure from a Vertov-Style split second shot.

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One interesting and unconventional element of the film is its presentation of war as both absurd and redundant. Generally, most propaganda films (especially Bolshevik) have a completely one side view on hand. The Red and the White features a midget would-be rapist Bolshevik violating a young white Russian girl (she is stripped and then washed for Stalin's other Bloody Dwarf). The white army ends up blasting this Trotskyite away with a variety of bullets. Truly refreshing for both sides.

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The White Army's elitism is not match for the global proletarian barbarians. In all honesty, its hard for me to decide who I like more. The Bolshevik obsession with fighting by any means necessary gets quite interesting. Some of the White Army POWs even end up converting to the Red Army. I guess that could be considered an all time low.

The conspiring of a woman with her diversion of the White Army via her naked body would be deemed misogynist by self loathing Emma Goldman would-be's. These type fighting techniques are very rarely seen from any type of war film. Its odd form of voyeurism becomes especially erotic.

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I doubt "E.T. hands" Spielberg watched The Red and the White in preparation for his gore fest/sentimentalist Zio-fantasy Saving Private Ryan. It may have inspired thought on his part which could have ended in Jurassic chaos. After all, he is the master of fantasy and showmanship.

-Ty E

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