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apathetic with apathy

The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia

by Jan Svankmayer
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia begins with the scene of an exploding building, and then deals with such precisely epoch-making political events as the “Liberation from Fascism” in 1945, the “February affair” in 1948, the “thaw” after the mid-1950s, the “Prague Spring” in 1968, the “normalization” after 1969 and the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989. The last event thus represents the “death” of Stalinism in the film. Stalinism imported from the Soviet Union became the state’s political system in 1948, when the Communist Party came to power under the leadership of Klement Gottwald. In the film this event is depicted in an exceedingly impressive manner: a stone bust of Stalin is laid on an operating table, and a surgeon cuts open its face to reveal innards from which is plucked a second smaller bust of Gottwald, covered in blood. Gottwald’s bust is slapped and the first cry of a newborn baby resounds. This “birth” of Gottwald is accompanied by the implantation of Stalinism. In the film the bust of the Czech Communist Party leader is seen actually making a Stalinist speech, during which historic documentary footage of cheering crowds is intercut. The images in this sequence imply that both Gottwald and, apparently, his countrymen enthusiastically embraced the adoption of Soviet Stalinism for the Czech nation, a political change that determined the course of Czech history for the next forty years: the four decades covered in episodes that follow in the film. more

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Filed under: Conspiracy, Cultural_Studies, Media_Alternate, Politics

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