Readers, it’s the beautiful month of May, and you know what that means-
That’s right! It’s a seemingly unending salvo of rabidly Socialist-themed blog posts!
Now readers, normally I’d get right into the thick of things and engage in a lengthy tirade on the insidious-and-soul-crushing nature of the Capitalist system and the failure of the radical left to challenge that. But since this post is coming to you late, how about I talk about something a bit lighter than the minutiae of modern political-economy instead?
How about movies?
Everyone likes movies, and lord knows that these ones listed here have probably done more to inspire righteous radicalism in the common man than all of the cliff notes on Das Kapital put together. Whether you’re a dirty, seditious Commie or just a fan of the berets and impassioned speeches, here’s Culture War Reporter’s recommendations for your revolutionary viewing pleasure:
The Edukators (German Title: Die Fetten Jahre Sind Vorbei)
Now right off the bat, yes, that is Daniel Brühl, of Rush and Inglorious Basterds. Now that you’re done wondering “where the **** have I seen that guy?”, let’s get into it.
Our story opens with a cadre of disaffected youth, tired and disillusioned with capitalism but not sure exactly what to do with themselves. The characters find themselves drawn into a campaign of pranking the houses of the wealthy elite- harmlessly, at first, but building momentum and severity. Their well-intentioned social statements spiral wildly out of control when they accidentally kidnap the owners of one of the estates they vandalize. Don’t think this is some cheap action movie though- the quiet, contemplative tone packs just as much punch, if not more, than any thriller.
More than anything, The Edukators is an exploration- touching on the zealotry of youth, the realities of growing up, and idealism in a world where ideals just aren’t relevant. The Edukators raises more questions than it offers, and is sure to convict both revolutionary and reactionary alike.
The Motorcycle Diaries (Spanish Title: Diarios de Motocicleta)
Based on the journals of perhaps the most famous revolutionary (Communist or otherwise) to have ever lived, The Motorcycle Diaries is still more of a road-trip flick than a biography. As with The Edukators, action is dropped in favor of one hell of a slow-burn as we journey along with Ernesto and his best friend through vista after stunning vista across the South American continent. Motorcycle Diaries takes the more subtle route, showing the first flickers of Che Guevara’s transformation from happy-go-lucky scoundrel to revolutionary icon.
I did mention that it was about a young Che Guevara, right?
A Huey P. Newton Story
It’s tough to come by Socialist films in English where the dreaded Reds are being portrayed as borscht-slurping, vodka-guzzling villains. Still, with a little digging and some creativity, you can find ’em, and perhaps none stands out so much as Spike Lee’s lesser-known masterpiece, A Huey P. Newton Story. Almost more poetry than a movie, the audience is graced with a one-on-one discussion with the Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton, as he narrates the rise and fall of one of the most wrongfully maligned and misunderstood forces of black history.
2011’s In Time never quite got a fair shake. In spite of a star-studded cast and a decent box-office pull, the flick fizzled with critics and was swiftly forgotten by the public. Which is a shame, because it’s a really, really, really good movie.
Not perfect, mind- far from it, if we’re being honest. But it’s rare to see a truly independent science-fiction movie actually get some decent funding while still addressing the issue of classism and wealth inequality.
Set in a dystopian future where the hours of a person’s life have become currency, the rich luxuriate in lives of decadent (and potentially millennia spanning) boredom while the poor live, quite literally, from one day to the next, a young worker’s life is changed forever when a wealthy stranger donates over a century of life to him. Our protagonist is plunged into a lethal game of cat-and-mouse as he attempts to evade the dreaded time-keepers, the envy of his fellow workers, and the avarice of the rich.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
It’s all too common for the Irish struggle for independence to get cast solely in the light of a tragic and pointless feud between Catholics and Protestants. Fortunately, The Wind That Shakes the Barley offers much needed balance to the story of the IRA, including it’s oft-forgotten roots as- surprise, surprise- a Socialist organization. While it would be unfair to classify the beautiful film as either a Marxist product or a film celebrating the left, the subtext of the struggle of the Irish working class and poor runs strong throughout the story, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley is well worth the watch for any pinko.
Marx in Soho
This isn’t the first time I’ve sung the praises of celebrated historian Howard Zinn’s Marx in Soho. Which should again reinforce how staggeringly good this play is, especially coming from a guy who hates the theater with an undying and fiery passion. This play (linked below and performed by the incomparable Brian Jones) takes you on a roller coaster, shifting flawlessly from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair. From the comedic to the sweeping arc of history to the man himself, in all his human flaws and failings. If there’s a link you click on this site, make it this one.
No list would be complete without this one.
Perhaps my favorite movie of all time, The Trotsky is equal parts comedy, underdog story, and fist-pumping call to action. We follow the struggle of Leon Bronstein, Canadian high school student and- if he is to be believed- the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky. After a series of mishaps lands him in public school, Leon finds himself leading his friends into a heated battle for a (real) student union. If you have a shred of leftist sympathy in you- heck, even if you just know somebody who’s a Red- watch this movie.