People’s interest in Communism has grown since the fall of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Cold War. Some of the most lauded and frequently seen films of the previous century have included communism and Communist ideology prominently. These 12 films, all made or starring communists, are a must-have for any serious film fan’s library.
1. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
More than 90 years after its initial premiere, Battleship Potemkin is still considered an essential document of film and political history. It’s a fictionalized account of the naval mutiny onboard Potemkin and the subsequent public protests against the Tsarist regime shown by Sergei M. Eisenstein’s film. Eisenstein crafts a picture that is both persuasive and engrossing as propaganda and entertainment by exploring the challenges that Russians faced in the years leading up to the Revolution and how Communist ideas can lead to a more ideal society.
2. Metropolis (1927)
One of the most influential films of the silent era, Fritz Lang’s German science fiction epic is widely regarded as a masterpiece. In Metropolis, the laborers and planners of a futuristic city are pitted against one other. Unusual events take place in the city when the son of a prominent planner falls in love with a prophet from the working class. The film’s Communist undertones necessitated a variety of distribution cuts over the years. Few films in the history of cinema have had such a profound impact on cinematography and storytelling.
3. Ernst Thälmann (1954-55)
Ernst Thälmann is a two-part biopic that portrays the tale of German Communism via the life of Thälmann, from 1918 until his assassination in 1944. As a young soldier fighting on the Western Front during World War I, Thälmann’s political ideas evolved over time. It illustrates Thälmann’s endeavor to unite all German workers against the Nazi party, as well as the succeeding battle against Fascism.
4. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
One of the most successful, well-received, and widely seen films of the twentieth century, which sparked a 2004 remake. It was published during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, making it a unique Cold War suspense thriller in the canon of cinematic history. When it comes to American anti-Communism paranoia, there is no other film that can compare to this one. Any fan of movies or politics should not miss The Manchurian Candidate.
5. 1900 (1976)
The year is 1900, and the setting is Italy, where characters from various socioeconomic strata compare and contrast Communism and Fascism. Between 1900 and 1945, the immense social upheaval in the United States is chronicled in this sweeping film. An examination of how class divisions affect friendships and ideals may be overcome by Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu as landowner and farmer, respectively. Furthermore, it is well-known for its obscene scenes.
6. The Killing Fields (1984)
One of the most well-known films of the 1980s is The Killing Fields. As a result of Pol Pot’s Year Zero cleansing operation, which killed 2 million people, two journalists from the United States and Cambodia have written a book based on their experiences. It perfectly conveys the dread, violence, and terror of the times. Personal tales of Cambodian residents are also featured, along with broader political issues. Despite having some of the best documentary cinematography, the film’s main strength lies in the stories of the people who appear in it.
7. Interrogation (1989)
It took seven years for Interrogation to be completed and released. In spite of its cult appeal and underground distribution through pirated DVDs in the 1980s, the film was not allowed to be shown in its entirety until the breakup of the Eastern Bloc because of its strong anti-Communist overtones. During a night of heavy drinking, a cabaret singer wakes up in prison and is forced to confess to crimes she didn’t commit. The terror and humiliation felt by Poles during communism are heavily criticized in this book.
8. Lal Salam (1990)
In comparison to other Communist countries and parties, India’s communist history is under-reported in the mainstream media. It’s a fascinating look into the early days of Kerala’s Communist Party, as seen through the eyes of three members. Communism was illegal to practice in India at the time, and the three main protagonists face a multitude of obstacles as a result. As a companion to previous films on the list, the film demonstrates the constraints of being both pro- and anti-Communism, which the film tackles with.
9. The Blue Kite (1993)
Many films receive additional attention as a result of their status as “controversial” or “banned.” Zhuangzhuang Tian, the director of The Blue Kite, was forbidden from making films for ten years by the Chinese government after the film’s completion. Despite this, the picture was well-received abroad and is now recognized as a shining example of Chinese cinema’s fifth generation. In an era when the individual was being repressed by the state, this film offers an essential personal story. Critical but honest account of life under Mao’s communism in China.
10. Land and Freedom (1995)
Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom tells the narrative of an English Communist who leaves Liverpool to fight against Fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Films about Communism that are more successful tend to compare it to other political ideals. To better understand the strengths and weaknesses of various political ideas, it’s important for us to look at Communism as part of a broader picture. People of different social and national backgrounds are brought together by Communism in this context.
11. Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)
A family’s perspective on the fall of East Germany is depicted in this film. It begins with a celebration of the achievements of East Germans in space, and the mother is a staunch supporter of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SVP). Thank you, Lenin! takes a look at what it’s like to watch a country vanish in front of your eyes, and how individuals coped with the country’s eventual reunion. In addition to being heartfelt and thought-provoking, the film’s use of comedy makes it a more realistic depiction of this time period.
12. Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army (2008)
When Mao was in power, Nepal unexpectedly became the site of a major insurgency, which led to a long and bloody civil war. Children as young as 11 were recruited by the guerrillas, many of whom agreed to join voluntarily. A group of Maoist child soldiers visits many of these children when they return home from the conflict. Why did they join the military? What were their first impressions? And how are they making a successful transition back to civilian life now that many of their communities have turned their backs on them? These are some of the stories they share. The film provides a striking depiction of Communist regimes’ hidden stories.