Set in Italy, 1900 is a comparison between Communism and Fascism as explored through characters from different social classes. This epic film spans from 1900 to 1945, charting the great social upheaval in the country during this time. Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu star as landowner and peasant respectively, and the film is a testament to how class inequalities impact friendships and ideals, and how these differences may be overcome. It is also renowned for its highly explicit scenes.
The Killing Fields (1984)
The Killing Fields is one of the most celebrated documentaries from the 1980s. It is based on the experiences of two journalists, one American and one Cambodian, during the time of Pol Pot‘s Year Zero cleansing campaign, which cost the lives of 2 million citizens. It captures the fear, violence and horror of the events in the period. It tells both the larger political story and smaller, personal stories of the photographers and other citizens of Cambodia. While the cinematography is among the best in documentary, it is the human stories featured in the documentary that really makes the film excel.
There were seven years between Interrogation‘s completion and its eventual release date. This was due to its heavy anti-Communist themes, and it wasn’t until the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc that it was finally allowed to be screened, although it did receive a cult following and underground circulation through pirated videos in the 80s. The film follows a cabaret singer who wakes up in prison after a night out drinking, and is tortured into confessing about crimes that she didn’t commit. A heavy critique of the sentiment of fear and humiliation in Communist Poland.
Lal Salam (1990)
Of all of the Communist states and parties around the world, India‘s communist history is comparatively less explored in mainstream media. Lal Salam explores the early days of the Communist Party in Kerala told through the eyes of three comrades. During this time, Communism was illegal to practice in India, and the three main characters experience a number of difficulties due to their affiliation with the party. The film engages with the lengths that people were willing to go for their beliefs and, as a companion to other films on the list, shows the limitations of being both pro- and anti-Communism.
The Blue Kite (1993)
Films that are banned or deemed controversial often gain more attention than they may have done otherwise. The Blue Kite was banned by the Chinese government upon completion, and Director Zhuangzhuang Tian had a ten year film-making ban imposed on him. The film nonetheless found a substantial international audience, and is regarded as a prime example of China‘s fifth generation of filmmaking. The film tells an important personal story in a time when the individual was being suppressed by the state. A critical but honest record of life under Mao’s Communism.
Land and Freedom (1995)
Land and Freedom is a film by acclaimed Director Ken Loach, telling the story of an English Communist who leaves his Liverpool home to fight against Fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Some of the more successful films about Communism place it in relation to other political ideals. By putting it in a wider picture, Communism becomes a more well-rounded topic of exploration and the strengths of pitfalls of different political ideas become apparent. Here, Communism is identified as a uniting factor, bringing people from different social and national backgrounds together.
Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)
A film about the fall of East Germany told from the point of view of one family. The film initially shows pride in East Germany, with their countrymen being among the first to enter space and the mother being an ardent supporter of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. Good Bye, Lenin! explores what it means to have a nation disappear before your eyes, and how people had to adjust to reunification. The film succeeds in being touching and though provoking, while the humor that is woven into the storytelling makes it an enjoyable and more relatable portrait of this period.
Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army (2008)
During Mao’s regime, Nepal surprisingly became home to one of the most prominent insurgencies, and resulted in a dramatic and protracted civil war. The insurgents extensively recruited children, many joining voluntarily when they were as young as 11 years old. Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army visits many of these children after they return home from the war. They tell their stories of why they joined the army, what their experiences were, and how they are adjusting to civilian life when many of their communities have turned their back on them. The film is a stark portrayal of the hidden stories in Communist regimes.