Oct 5, 2012

The Chekist

For a number of years, I have been trying to find a reasonably historically accurate and ironfisted film depiction that does not shy away from unearthing the atrocities of the so-called 'Russian' revolution, Bolsheviks, and the Soviet Union, so it was quite a surprise when this film turned out to be Russian. Centering around a small town Cheka – the first secret police in the Soviet Union set up by decree by Vladimir Lenin himself – The Chekist (1992) aka Чекист directed by Russian auteur Alexander Rogozhkin (The Cuckoo aka Kukushka, Peculiarities of the National Hunt) is an unflinchingly brutal and obscenely unsentimental depiction of Soviet state sadism that makes Hollywood holocaust flicks like Schindler's List (1993) and The Pianist (2002) seem like big-budget melodramatic afterschool specials by comparison. More hectically hardboiled, decisively deadpan, and vigilantly violent than Elem Klimov’s Soviet war masterpiece Come and See (1985), The Chekist is the sort of film that would even make debauched horror fans cringe and consume them with a rare sense of guilt due to its unrelenting realism and overall lack of gratuitous entertainment value. Focusing on a small-time Cheka leader named Andrey Srubov (played masterfully by Igor Sergeev) and his mass-murdering underlings as they secretly exterminate masses of naked people by way of underground firing squad, The Chekist is a relatively minimalistic work with a steady burning foreboding story and fiercely forlorn aesthetic that portrays the emotionally-draining monotony of old school red mass-slaughter and how it slowly but steadily eats away at the souls of the perpetrators. Srubov describes the philosophy of the charming Cheka as follows: “To quell the chaos this country needs a strong, even cruel executive….in the basement, in secret without reading the appeal, with no public impact, morally destroys the individual. After his death, nothing remains; neither the body nor the grave, or any details of his death.” Throughout The Chekist, one sees scene after scene of Srubov and his mostly mundane yet largely sadomasochistic men carrying out these killings in a barbaric, heartless, and mechanical fashion. After forcing the prisoners to strip, lines of five naked prisoners are forced to stand with their face against the wall and are subsequently shot. Like dead animals in a butcher shop, a rope is attached around the body of the still warm cadaver, which is then dragged out of the basement while hanging upside down in an opprobrious fashion and thrown into the back of a large truck with hundreds of other naked 'counter-revolutionaries.' As can be expected from such a gruesome and appalling yet undeniably potent film, The Chekist makes for a singularly degrading and literally sickening cinematic experience, thus it comes fully and highly recommended. 

There are many reasons why Hollywood has never and will never make a film like The Chekist, not least of all because a number of their ancestors actively supported such perverted political movements, but the most obvious and important reason being that the victims of the Cheka – which mainly included white, heterosexual Christians like Imperial Russia civil servants and military officers (including their children and wives), all members of the clergy, aristocrats, anyone suspected of not supporting the Soviet government, and any person whose property amounted to more than 10,000 rubles, among various others – are the same sort of people that the detestable dream-makers of Tinseltown target today in many of their malicious movies. Of course, the Cheka – as depicted in The Chekist – also persecuted a couple members of certain minority groups, including a handful of rich, anti-communist Jews, but, in reality, the Soviet leadership, especially during the early years, was made up of a large number of genocidal Jews. For example, the first president of the Soviet Republic (later the Soviet Union), Yakov Sverdlov –a Bolshevik party leader and an ethnic Jew – ordered the murder of the Czar Nicholas II and his family, which was subsequently carried out by fellow atheistic Israelite Yakov Yurovsky and his Semitic assassins Medvedev, Nikulin, Yermakov, and Vaganov. The two greatest killers of the Soviet Union – Genrikh Yagoda and Lazar Kaganovich who were responsible for no less than ten million deaths apiece – were also down with the Hebrew hammer as somewhat recently recognized by a surprisingly honest Israeli journalist in the worthwhile article Stalin's Jews. The Chekist is also one of only a handful of films to make light of the Jewish connection with the Jewish Cheka leader Isaac Katz; an old Bolshevik who was responsible for Srubov’s father’s death during the early days of the revolution. In one particularly unintentionally surreal scene, Katz teases a Jewish jewelry dealer about his Jewish origins, subsequently inspiring the wretched small fry capitalist to call out the Cheka man on his absurdly glaring self-hatred. Of course, while virtually all church buildings in the Soviet Union were blown up and over 50,000 priests were either executed or sent to the Gulags (Soviet concentration camps) during the 1920s through the 1930s, not a single synagogue was harmed. In The Chekist, a large percentage of the prisoners that are stripped and executed are holy men, which even forces one Cheka man to trade shooting spots with a less god-fearing comrade of the innately atheistic Marxist faith, thus showing how so many everyday individuals, especially opportunists, would ignore their spirituality just to fall in favor with the new Russian leadership. The Cheka group is also startled when a young women in her early 20s proclaims that “she wants to live” and “she has so much life,” thus causing the generally amoral assassins to hesitate, but Srubov – who usually only decides one's fate and never does any of the actual killings – does not dillydally when it comes to putting a bullet between her weary, big bourgeois eyes. Clearly a totally demoralized individual with some sort of all-consuming psychosis, Srubov brings his kosher compatriot Katz – the man who executed his father – to his mother’s home for dinner, which she is naturally offended by, but the Cheka leader is more disgruntled with her for cooking meat. It seems when carrying the executions of hundreds of human cattle each day, one has a reasonably hard time devouring a medium-cooked steak.

Undoubtedly, The Chekist is a film that needed to be made a longtime ago, but surely Hollywood, which has always had a more sympathetic view of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and continues to back the persecution of any individual that is white, Christian, and wealthy, hence their need to make a new hysterical holocaust film every week, as well as ethno-masochistic Western Europeans of the usually neo-Trotskyite sort, would never dare make such a damning and disconcerting film. If the average white American was aware of the sort of thing that happened in The Chekist and that certain alien elements in Germany and elsewhere in Europe were trying to bring the same thing outside of Eastern Europe during the first half of the twentieth century, it would be doubtful that they would be so sympathetic towards that latest overly sentimental Shoah flick from the anti-Occidental showmen of Hebraic Hollywood. As a low-rank Cheka man states quite ironically (and unintentionally so) and in complete opposition to how Srubov states how what they do “morally destroys the individual,” there is no doubt in his mind that, “The revolution has taught our people to die with dignity.” Of course, there is nothing respectable about being stripped, facing a basement wall, and going to one’s death without even putting up a fight. With its unwavering sepiatone-like browns and all around lack of spirited color, The Chekist is a film that is deathly dreary and dehumanizing in terms of both theme and aesthetic. That being said and relatively speaking, The Chekist is a nearly immaculate work that cleverly uses ‘Soviet realism’ against itself in a manner better than most of the commie state filmmakers ever could in portraying the cruel and cryptic deaths of those inflexible individuals who could not fit in with Lenin's ideal ‘New Soviet Man’; a malleable slave that can be programmed to do anything, including killing one’s kin and befriending the slaughterer of one’s own father.  Accordingly to The Chekist lead character Srubov, "The Revolution has nothing to do with philosophy" and by the end of the film, neither does the Cheka's killings as a black heart needs no intellectual justification.  Unfortunately, The Chekist director Alexander Rogozhkin went on to create less serious films about what Russians love best: vodka and hunting, but with this one film he proved he could direct like a man of steel.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Trash said...

Here is another great movie for you, if you havent watched it yet - Holod 33.