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Tricia's retro film review: Arsenal



Arsenal is the 1929 Russian film directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko. The peasants are unhappy after WWI is over. Timosh is one of the many soldiers returning from the war. After a train crash, he becomes radicalized and joins the Bolshevik Revolution. Soon, he joins a group of revolutionaries who fight the Ukrainian government. They clash with the government forces and many separate stories are told. Timosh makes clear to the opposition that they will never give up the fight, no matter what. Will he be able to beat his enemies and save the Ukraine from the capitalists?

The film is a propaganda piece like Earth, but unlike that film, there’s a scarier message. It seems to be saying that killing any bourgeoisie is okay, even though some of them may be decent people. One character even asks if they can kill as many capitalists as possible and they get the okay to do so. They then look happy that they’re going to kill people. Interestingly, Timosh is quite willing to join the Soviet Union, even though a lot of Ukrainians would probably be nationalistic and have a strong sense of pride for their country, even if they do become communists. The story isn’t a bad one for a propaganda film, although the antagonists are a little too one-dimensional, especially the officer who kills the old woman for no good reason. The cinematography is beautiful, with plenty of memorable images. From the train crash to Timosh stripping off his shirt and becoming bulletproof. There are a lot of memorable moments, such as the men who take their dead comrade’s body home to bury him and the old lady with the three dead sons. Honolulu film fans who can handle the scary undertones need to rent it first.

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