[Socialismo] Scen.: Peter von Bagh. F.: Arto Kaivanto. M.: Petteri Evilampi . DCP. D.: 86’. Bn e Col.
For the first time in a long time, Peter von Bagh looks at a subject vaster than Finnish history: Socialism, the 20th century’s greatest dream and source of some of its darkest nightmares. As always, the story develops along a roughly chronological arc: Sosialismi begins with one of cinema’s first moving images ever, Louis Lumière’s Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895) and the energies and theories that gave rise to Marxism, and ends in these our own days where the icons of a hope for a juster and kinder world got turned into market commodities, merchandise, shows of opinions instead of a conviction’s insignia. As always, it’s all about digressions as the only way towards the unattainable but most desirable truth; about jumping back and forth in time, about remembering Spain and at the sight of a Chaplin poster and the Legion Condor crossing the skies like an icon instantly associating, e.g. Vietnam; about following the figures and landscape, faces and places a song might bring up (the cascade of state funerals gliding by on waves of Auf Wiedersehens is hilarious and haunting and brutally to the point and outrageous, to give but one example); about honouring certain trains of thoughts, images: how Lumières’ employees become a rally, proletarian fists raised to the sky, become a sea of flags which we all know are red even when the film is in b&w. Von Bagh, maybe the truest of all Benjaminians in modern cinema, shows how socialism and cinema – all of cinema, be it documentary, be it fiction – are one, and how life is all about this sense of never being alone but always one; that cinema and socialism will always be there, just like Tom Joad knew.