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An extraordinary film called Ordinary Fascism

Iconic photo of the Warsaw Ghetto is featured in Ordinary Fascism.

Watching the Soviet film Ordinary Fascism (Obyknovennyy fashizm, Mikhail Romm, 1965) is to go through a document that forces us to reflect on History in three different moments.

The first is Nazism in Germany, from its rise to defeat in World War II. The second is the 60s, when the was released (1965), that is, 20 years after the end of the conflict, a comparison that director Mikhail Romm himself proposes.

The third moment is to find this work in 2022 and watch it in the light of our current social period, in which Fascism is, once again, a political force in Europe, the United States, and Latin America (including Brazil, of course).

We can understand, for example, that contemporary Fascism is the result of the inability to overcome the causes of the phenomenon. Despite the defeats of Germany and Italy in World War II, it always remained as a skeleton in the closet, ready to emerge when the economic and social conditions of capitalism allow.

In the film, the comparison between the two historical moments takes place from a Soviet point of view. Mikhail Romm was born in Siberia in 1901 and witnessed events that shaped the 20th Century. He served in the Red Army during the Russian Revolution and lived through Stalinism and the horrors of War. He directed 18 films and taught Andrei Tarkovsky.

With these credentials, having him as the narrator of the documentary offers us the privilege of listening to someone who left us an important message. He speaks as a Soviet and as a socialist. In the montage, he uses images from the present (1965) and material from the archives of the Ministry of Propaganda of the Third Reich, Hitler´s collection, and seized photographs of German soldiers and the SS.

He often mocks the figures of supreme dictators, such as Hitler and Mussolini, analyzing from archive footage, in which he highlights details that would go unnoticed by viewers. At other times, he tries to seek answers to the mass adhesion of the German population to the Nazi sect.

At no time, however, is he a Manichean. He shows the German resistance and the Nazi persecution of everyone who tried to oppose the regime. He recalls that many countries reached agreements with Hitler when he was elected. And he uses an iconic image to define the 20th Century as a runaway race car on a motorsport track.

The importance of his documentary is to show the terrible alliance between the Nazis and the bourgeoisie, who made the Second World War a lucrative business of corpses. Its conclusion elects the United States as the heirs of the Third Reich's commercial techniques. That, perhaps, explains why the United States, since the 60s, has never stopped promoting armed conflicts.

The film's premiere was in Leipzig. “Although Germany at that time was a friendly country of the USSR, the session was heavy. They say that some onlookers recognized their relatives and close people among the dead and the executioners. After the movie ended, for about 10 minutes, people sat in silence. Mikhail Romm admitted that his main objective had been to shock the viewer, and for that, he chose the method of combining war and peacetime scenes," reported Mosfilm deputy director Igor Bogdasaro.

Watching Ordinary Fascism also allows us to reflect on the current Brazilian situation. It is possible to see that we are far from the alienated way in which the Germans adhered to the Nazi ideology. There are indeed people who profess fanatical and thoughtless adoration of the precepts of the extreme right, but we are still a long way from mass adherence as seen in this film.

However, the capitalist conditions that allowed the rise of the regime in Germany are present. The government´s response to the pandemic is comparable to a lucrative corpse business. The co-optation of agents of the justice system, the constant changes in the legal and constitutional order, the assault on State institutions, and the easy adherence of the national bourgeoisie to extreme right-wing ideas make up a list of similar attributes, which do represent a serious threat.

Unfortunately, Fascism is an ordinary presence, and it will never be defeated if we don't overcome the historical conditions that allow its existence.

Sources: CPC-UMES


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