from Russia with bias


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“Think about something cheerful”, – the translator tells the girl.

“About what?”, – she asks, her eyes full of tears.

Under the Sun by Vitaly Mansky – what a beautiful and heartbreakingly sad documentary film about North Korea. It’s totally because of his own experience of living under a totalitarian regime, that the director has managed to depict North Korea as a place of horrific tragedy that has struck people like us, not a human zoo populated by exotic alien species that wear funny costumes and behave like madmen.

The film shows victims of an acute Stockholm syndrome, many of them beautiful and seemingly intelligent people, forced to partake in maddening rituals, collaborate in producing mind-boggling visual fakes and conceal their inherent humanness from dehumanizing institutions.

It is also a film about religion. People hailing from the ex-Soviet bloc seldom realise that they were brought up in a deeply religious environment, even though it was a 20th century charismatic cult, not a “traditional” millennium-old religion.

That’s why after the collapse of their Communist church they were easy prey for Christian and Islamic fundamentalists.

That’s why many find solace in nationalism – another 20th century cult that venerates a mythical past and promotes archaic practices in politics and everyday life.

That’s why East European liberals, like myself, better connect with ex-evangelicals and Jesuit school dropouts that with traditional Western left, which – it often seems – could do way more to develop the faculty of critical thinking.

That’s why we see the psychological traits of Communist officials, KGB handlers and their secret agents in loud-mouthed info-warriors, self-proclaimed defenders of Western values and right-wing bigots.

The film is now available on Netflix.

Written by fullofbias

October 10, 2017 at 10:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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