Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Power of the Powerless

Although it's not possible to write extensive posts about every manuscript or film project Soviet Roulette receives, I am always to receive review copies of English-language books or films related to Russian or Soviet history, literature, and culture.  On some occasions, Soviet Roulette also analyzes works related to the Cold War, comparative revolutions, international communism, Central or Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or Central and Far Eastern history.  In this spirit, I would like to thank for sending me a copy of The Power of the Powerless, a documentary that covers the relationship between the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution.  The film provides viewers with insight into the means by which totalitarian states intimidate their citizenry at the local level, and how resistance to such intimidation often functions. Of course, the Soviets used brute force to put down the Prague rebellion, but their Czech allies also suppressed dissent in more subtle ways.  Indeed, it's just as important, and more typical of everyday communism, to see a former faculty member who supported reform describe being punished for her political sympathies by being fired from the faculty and then asked to clean bathrooms at the university. One might have hoped for a little more context to the 1968 revolt against hard-line communism, but the dozens of eye-witness accounts of that revolt and its aftermath, and a detailed description of the events leading up to the Velvet Revolution, make this an important film.

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