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pherank

What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?

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This being the 100th anniversary - I recommend this engrossing article from the current Smithsonian magazine:

What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?
We journey through Vladimir Putin’s Russia to measure the aftershocks of the political explosion that rocked the world a century ago
By Ian Frazier

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-ever-happened-to-russian-revolution-180964768/

 

Quote

On my first Moscow visit, the man who drove Alex and Katya and me around the city was a wry and mournful fellow named Stas. He had a serviceable, small Russian sedan, not new, that he maintained carefully. One day he couldn’t drive us because the car needed repairs. When he showed up again I asked him how his car was doing now. “Is an old man ever well?” Stas replied. At Lyudmila Borisovna’s, when I was having trouble dialing her phone, she corrected me. “He likes to be dialed slowly,” she said. When people showed me examples of Moscow architecture, the buildings usually possessed a person’s name indicating their particular era. Instead of saying, “That’s a Khrushchev-era building,” my guides said, “That’s Khrushchev. That’s Stalin. That’s Brezhnev.” When I asked what the Russian for “speed bump” is, I was told it’s lezhashchii politseiskii, which means “lying-down policeman.” When a noise thumped in an apartment we were visiting, our hosts explained to me that it was the domovoi, the resident spirit of the apartment. Every house or apartment has a domovoi.

 


An ancient enchantment holds Russia under its spell. Here all kinds of things and creatures are seen to be sentient and capable of odd transmigrations. In Yekaterinburg my son, while doing some babysitting for a friend, had this conversation:

    Six-year-old boy: “What are you?”
    Thomas: “I’m an American.”
    Boy: “Why are you an American?”
    Thomas: “I don’t know. Because I come from America.”
    Boy: “Can you speak English?”
    Thomas: “Yes.”
    Boy: (after some thought): “Can you talk to wild animals?”

The question is no less than reasonable in Russia, where even the doors in the most elegant room in the Winter Palace have the feet of birds.

 

Edited by pherank

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10 hours ago, pherank said:

 

When I asked what the Russian for “speed bump” is, I was told it’s lezhashchii politseiskii, which means “lying-down policeman.”

 

Just to point out, the British English word for a speed bump is a "sleeping policeman", which I really doubt they loan-translate from Russian, so this tidbit doesn't reveal anything unique about Russia.

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7 hours ago, kbarber said:

When I asked what the Russian for “speed bump” is, I was told it’s lezhashchii politseiskii, which means “lying-down policeman.”

 

Just to point out, the British English word for a speed bump is a "sleeping policeman", which I really doubt they loan-translate from Russian, so this tidbit doesn't reveal anything unique about Russia.

 

Well if you think about it, that would show a connection between British and Russian culture that isn't shared with the U.S., for example. But is it a big deal? No, I would say not. Just one of those mildly interesting little things (of which there are so many in life/culture).

 

Frazier's resurrection of the journalist Jack Reed is, imo, more significant, more timely information. It is ironic that Russian scholars must go to the writings of this American journalist to find out the details (and complications) of political and social life in St. Petersburg/Moscow in revolutionary Russia. Reed is largely forgotten in the US - if it weren't for Warren Beatty's film Reds, I would say Reed and Louise Bryant would be entirely forgotten.

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The lives of Reed and Bryant, and Reed's writings, will always be of interest to historians and specialists in the period. It's not surprising that the names of a couple of journalists, however well known in their time, would fall out of the popular consciousness.  It's lucky that their story made a good movie (well, an okay movie) and that Beatty wanted to make it. Much less likely that a major studio would venture on the project today, even with a big male star pushing it. 

 

I add my thanks for the article, pherank.

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This film review kind of relates:

“The Death of Stalin” is a precarious comedic experiment
Armando Iannucci treats purges and terror with levity. Oddly, it works.
https://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2017/10/gulag-gags?cid1=cust/ddnew/email/n/n/20171020n/owned/n/n/ddnew/n/n/n/nna/Daily_Dispatch/email&etear=dailydispatch


OR


https://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2017/10/gulag-gags


'Nevertheless, The Death of Stalin prevails as a rewarding, uniquely black comedy. Like most of Mr Iannucci’s work, it is essentially concerned with ambition and how it must be disguised from the public. Messrs Beale and Buscemi are consistently amusing as they attempt to outmanoeuvre one another while trying their best to appear solemn and mournful after the tragic loss of their leader. The result is a sharp satire of how and when intelligent people feel the need to justify acts of violence for “the greater good”.'

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I hope to get to see this film, if only to see Simon Russell Beale as Beria. It sounds as if his  performance is a cross between his Richard III and his Kenneth Widmerpool which, if true ,I should count as worth the price of admission in itself. A great deal of what sounds highly improbable in the film's story line is not that far removed from what happened in the period immediately following Stalin's death when Russia was ruled by a gang of three. His death prevented the next great purge which was to be precipitated by the  "discovery" of the doctor's plot. The doctors had already been arrested in readiness. 

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There is an extended death of Stalin gag (which I must admit I found very funny) in an Australian film with Judy Davis called Children of the Revolution.

 

I think I will try to see The Death of Stalin too...

 

 

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

There is an extended death of Stalin gag (which I must admit I found very funny) in an Australian film with Judy Davis called Children of the Revolution.

 

I think I will try to see The Death of Stalin too...

 

 

 

Ah yes, I enjoyed that film way back when. I'd forgotten all about it.

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