Sunday, December 12, 2004

On the box

Potemkin (click here to watch!)
Братья! В кого стреляешь?
Like Triumph of the Will one of the greatest propaganda films ever made for an evil cause. Works even with the camp literal moustache-twirling officer villians. Nearly every scene is a gem. Doesn’t make the church look too good: underneath the brass crucifix, the beard and the рясса (big-sleeved over-cassock) the Orthodox priest aboard the Potemkin is an arrogant, sadistic bastard. One of many outstanding little scenes: when the firing squad is about to shoot a group of sailors rounded up on the fo’c’s’le he smacks his blessing crucifix against his palm like a club. The point Sergei Eisenstein’s handlers are trying to make is laughable in retrospect: ‘of course once the bad old church is out of the way people won’t be treated that way anymore in the glorious Soviet Union, no, sir!’

Reminds me of my truth-in-advertising rewrite of ‘The Times, They Are a-Changin’’:
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
— orelsewe’llburndownyourvillagesandcrucifyyourpriests,
andsendyoutotheGuLags* —
For the tiiiiiiimes, they are a-chaaaaangin’...
Yes, even the Catholic religion of that priest can be abused, including just like the Communists accused. In humility the church can only admit that. But the church is a paradox: sinless and infallible, and made up of fallible and sinful people. Abusus non tollit usum.

I’ve met or known two priests who were retired Navy men, one British, the other American, and one (the American coincidentally) really was like that, mean as a snake.

Tsardom wasn’t perfect either: witness the pogroms, the Russo-Japanese War and miring the country in World War I because of entangling treaties and misguided loyalty (‘help Orthodox Serbia’).

*Singing fast hoping you won’t notice, like a legal disclaimer at the end of an ad

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