Author Topic: Trotsky  (Read 420 times)

Offline David in MN

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Trotsky
« on: October 03, 2020, 12:38:57 PM »
Netflix has a miniseries titled Trotsky about the man and his history. It is interesting because it kind of tells his story jumping between his telling of it near the end of his life in Mexico and his coming to prominence in Russia in the 1917-1918 time period.

Up front, it's in Russian with subtitles. Sometimes this just plain sucks because some characters are explained with text in Russian that is not translated. The translations (with what little Russian I know) lack the complexity often in the dialogue.

All the negatives aside, the story is great. And leave it to the Russians to make a show about Lenin, Stalin, and primarily Trotsky and make them all villains. I can't speak to the accuracy of the series because I'm far from an expert on Trotsky only having read a couple of his books and not rigorously delving into his history. But far from a hero they portray a beaten old man chased by his demons with almost no link to humanity in him. He abandons his family, dons a black leather uniform as his death train rides across Russia, is oversexed, executes his friends,  and outlives his children.

It's a powerful series that tells the story of the Revolution set against WWI and Russian anti-semitism. Well written and well filmed. There is some (brief and really unneccessary) nudity and there is plenty of violence that will make people cringe. The director clearly loves the contrast of blood in snow.

Worth the watch.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Trotsky
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2020, 02:41:28 PM »
Thanks! Always looking for new suggestions. Subtitles aren't a negative to us... we've been watching a couple of Danish series lately (Borgen and Warrior) on NF. DH studied Russian in college, but don't know if he'll be able to add to the depth of the translations... we'll probably just watch and absorb as best we can.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Trotsky
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 11:01:33 AM »
I think you'll enjoy it. There is something unwaveringly distasteful that the history books miss. I did not know that he had 4 children (2 girls by his first wife and 2 boys by the second) and all 4 died before him. It's pretty grisly to imagine that Stalin had (for sure) his first wife killed and (likely) both his sons killed. His younger daughter died of illness and his older daughter killed herself.

None of this matters to Trotsky, of course, who is singularly focused on global revolution except for when he needs the occasional bottle of red wine or a rendezvous with Frida Kahlo. Even his second wife undergoes a tragic life beginning as a sexy nude model carousing Europe to end up looking like a mentally shattered frail old woman.

I don't want to spoil the whole thing because there is so much to hate in this series. For those who know a little Russian history we get Kamenev as the sober voice in the Soviet politburo. But even his voice of moderation is overwhelmed. One must wonder about the history. It's common for a poorly educated American to get the wrote public school lesson that Lenin was a visionary, Trotsky a brilliant orator, and Stalin wrecked it all. This series makes no bones that Stalin was a terror but also lays blame at Lenin for his purges and reminds that Trotsky re-instituted the death penalty. He really comes off as the permanent revolutionary who lacks the stones to actually pull a trigger.

I finished the series last night and to get an idea of just how badly they portray these Marxists the show ended with a quote... from the Bible. Proverbs 4:19 "But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom. They do not know what makes them stumble." Ending any tale of Marxist revolutionaries with a Biblical quote is like insult to injury. Much like when Putin rode a horse shirtless and every stupid American thought he was showing off his muscles. Umm, no. He was showing off the giant gold cross he wears and every Russian knew their grandparents would have been executed for that. This series is littered with these little insults that only people educated in Russian culture will grasp.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Trotsky
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2020, 08:34:10 AM »
... Much like when Putin rode a horse shirtless and every stupid American thought he was showing off his muscles. Umm, no. He was showing off the giant gold cross he wears and every Russian knew their grandparents would have been executed for that. This series is littered with these little insults that only people educated in Russian culture will grasp.

I did not know that! Are there any other subtle messages like this that jumped out at you while you were watching?

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Trotsky
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2020, 09:26:58 AM »
I may recommend it to my husband,  He lived in Russia for 2 years, a few months in Moscow, but mostly down near Rostov (Sochi area)

Offline David in MN

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Re: Trotsky
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2020, 09:32:25 AM »
Oh, yes. Trotsky himself does a Gandalf thing which is gently suggested early on as he selects which suit to wear for a protest. Then we see him transition to a uniform of black leather while building the Red Army and he dies in Mexico wearing a very fashionable light colored suit and his cane is topped in ivory. These are very forcefully put forward.

I also noticed the teacups. Russians are (not to put a slight on my ancestors) very fetishistic with their teacups. It was not lost on me that during his time at home he had a very humble ceramic teacup but while on his armored train he had an elaborate glass and metal (as is the Russian fashion) teacup.

The other thing that wildly stuck out to me was the complete lack of insignia. Trotsky never has a hammer and sickle, not so much as a red star. He is thereby relegated as an outsider.

You have to take this in view of Russian propaganda, though. It's not so rare to see Stalin as a bad guy. It's in a whole other world to show Lenin as a feeble man without character and portray Trotsky as an opportunist interloper. With very subtle props and clothing you really can feel the condescension Trotsky has for the common people. That's wildly out of character for Russian film.