January 15, 2016

THE KEY INSIGHT OF THE eND OF hISTORY....

REVIEW of Chuck Norris vs. Communism (ALICE NICOLOV 15 January 2016, OpenDemocracy)

The documentary, by Romanian filmmaker and editor Ilinca Calugareanu, investigates how Romanians in the '80s were given their first snapshot of modern-day America, enemy of the Communist state, via black-market Hollywood blockbusters. It follows the story of state translator Irina, who is scouted by the faceless Zamfir to dub illegal VHS tapes for sale to the curious, the brave, and those able to get their hands on VCRs. (Zamfir's job remains a mystery until the end of the film when his security service connections are revealed.)

These people would then host private 'screenings' of Rocky or The Delta Force, introducing a whole generation of Romanians to American cinema. The documentary claims that these illicit private screenings "sparked a revolution" from Romanian living rooms. It's a big claim.

Twenty-five years after the Iron Curtain fell, a wave of post-communist nostalgia amongst the older generations of Eastern Europe, teamed with a keen interest among the younger generation, has given rise to documentaries, TV shows and films trying to address anew the question, 'what was life like under communism'? Oral testimony, as used overwhelmingly in "Chuck Norris vs. Communism", is vital to get information about former communist states as the security services had such control that private letters and diaries are few and far between. It is important that people like Calugareanu start to record these testimonies and make them available.

The film brings us straight into the lives of very ordinary people as they laugh together about their 'movie nights', clearly enjoying the opportunity to talk about their experiences and reminisce with affection about the 'good times' they had under communism. As one interviewee says, the movie nights were a way to 'spite the regime' in a non-confrontational way, and we see how important these gathering were to forming relationships. It gave a grim society a space to relax and forget about food queues and a diet of state-controlled TV. 

...is that the war of ideas wins itself.
Posted by at January 15, 2016 8:30 AM

  

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