One of the most enduring cinematic images is that of a gigantic concrete Lenin, disassembled and floating down a river tied to a barge. The scene occurs in Theo Angelopoulos' film, Ulysses' Gaze, where a Greek filmmaker exiled to the United States, returns to his native Ptolemas to attend a special screening of one of his extremely controversial films. Met with political opposition in his homeland, he decides then to instead to search for the mythical reels of the very first film shot by the Manakia brothers, who were contemporaries of early filmmakers such as the Lumiere brothers. At the end of the film, the protagonist is able to salvage the Manakia brothers film reel only to see a blank, white screen.
The New York Times reports yesterday that in Russia, many are advocating for the removal of the embalmed body of Lenin from Red Square. Those advocates argue that Lenin himself wished to be buried and while Lenin's ideas where significant in their own time, they have for years been obsolete in the modern Russian state. However, for as many who wish to have the body of Lenin removed there are those that prefer him to be left as he is. The debate and the final decision will have as much to say about the future of Russia, a state whose world influence continues to wane, as it does memory.
As vivid are the images of the dissected Lenin in Angelopolous' fim are the real images of Saddam Hussein's figure being torn from it's base, the dismembered arm of Mao at the Factory 798; and Jian-Guo Sui's 3.25 meter high stainless steel Mao jacket (without the Mao) entitled Chinese Legacy Mantle.
(*) Goodbye, Lenin (2003) is the title of a feature film by Wolgang Becker where in 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma; a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.
New York Times. With Lenin's Ideas Dead, Russia Weighs What to Do With Body
New York Times. China's Long March Is Retraced With Artistic Steps
IMDB. Ulysses' Gaze
IMDB. Goodbye, Lenin
Posted by on October 5, 2005 6:56 PM | Permalink