Essay on Writing Under Stalin

Submitted By Studyhelp02
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Pages: 7

The Comedy of a Non-Comedic Regime

Humor plays an interesting role in The Children of the Revolution by Peter Duncan, as it provides laugh out loud scenes in the context of a terrorizing ruler, while also utilizing comedy to code the underlying idea of Stalin’s horrible authoritarian reign. The uniqueness of this film is the depth of analysis that accompanies the comedy, while sharing many themes with the actual Stalinist era. The film almost forces the viewer to periodically click pause in order to understand the laughter on every level. It is important to note that this movie was released well after the Stalinist regime in 1996, so although the director was in no danger of response from Stalin and or Russia, he accurately portrays the necessary coding and civil life of the period it is set in. This essay will look into the two ways that humor is utilized within the film, from a simple chuckle for the viewer, to an underlying strike against the Stalinist ideals; clearly showing the anti-authoritarian nature of the movie. Initially, the humor in The Children of the Revolution comes as comedic relief for the viewer, but also symbolizes a significant survival skill under the Stalinist regime. During a parent teacher conference, Joan is made aware of a speech that Joe gave in class where he speaks about Stalin in an admiring light. When the teacher implies to Joan that someone may be giving Joe communist ideas, Joan responds, “Ideas? Oh God no…” (Duncan min37) as if she hopes this is not the case. This humor engages the viewer in what is to come, as it symbolizes the whispers of the citizens under Stalin in an amusing way. Even though Joan lives in Australia and there is no reason to hide her beliefs, Duncan chooses to have Joan keep her communism a secret from Joe’s teacher, making Joan represent the citizen who must whisper, while the teacher represents a citizen that would report Joan to the authorities. This brings up a major daily role of the citizens under Stalin, while keeping the topic humorous by making the communist have to hide her beliefs. This skill of not speaking about what you believe in helped many during the Stalinist era, as people who were suspected to be against Stalinist ideas could be arrested or killed. This comedic style within the theme of whispering shows up later in the film as well, when Joe is arrested every single time he spray paints communist comments on a building. Even though Joe wants to be arrested, the theme is still present as it shows that there was little to no forgiveness for being open in ones anti-authoritarian views. Furthermore, comedic relief is utilized once again to address the themes of deception and homo sovieticus among the Russian citizens. When Joan first meets Stalin in Moscow, Stalin prepares for her visit in two main ways. First, he spends ample amounts of time cleaning himself up to look presentable and professional for Joan, and second, Stalin has three of his men act as puppets to convince Joan that Stalin is funny, caring, and a great man. This acting by the three men is a clear example of the deception that took place in Stalinist Russia, as the Stalinist regime promoted and promised that the new government was a great improvement and was the best situation for the people. With Joan representing the Soviet citizens, Stalin tricks her into believing that he is someone he is not, and this only makes Joan love him and his ideas even more. The fact that the three men did exactly as Stalin asked on command, strongly suggests that these men were examples of homo sovieticus, the new soviet people. These men are portrayed as mindless drones with no individuality, performing only what is told of them and enjoying the tasks. This humor comes with an underlying attack at Stalin as well, for the men who represent homo sovieticus are embarrassing, useless, and dumb characters. Moreover, the film employs countless comedic examples of underlying attacks against Stalin