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Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:30 pm 
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We've all seen the Nuclear War films made in the West. Lurid dramas like "Panic in Year Zero" to Roger Corman's "The Day the World Ended," to serious films like, "Dr. Strangelove," and "On The Beach," colored the thinking of moving-going Westerners.

In 1986, while Ronald Reagan joked about launching ICBMs when the venerable actor thought the camera was off, a curious sort of film came out of the U.S.S.R:

Director Konstantin Lopuchansky's "Letters From A Dead Man." The screenplay was written by Lopuchansky, Vyacheslav Rybakov, and major Russian SF writer Boris Strugatsky.

It told the story of what General War might look like if you lived in the U.S.S.R. There was no talk of the Soviet State's immortality, or victory, or how cool it might be to drop thousands of nukes. There was no bashing of Capitalism, no put down of the West. The very fact that a film like this was allowed to be made in the U.S.S.R.--and let out of that country to the rest of humankind--is amazing.

"Letters From a Dead Man" is a dark vision, far darker than anything that came out of the West, but that should be expected, given Russian losses in World War II. They fought the Nazis on their home turf and their losses were enormous. Often Soviet leaders forgot this, toying with the world in places like Cuba and against geniuses like John F. Kennedy. But for the most part, the Soviet's had a kind of gloom they never shook off since 1945.

The plot follows one of the few survivors, Prof. Larson (Roland Byleov) who writes a series of letters to his grown son...whom he hopes has somehow survived elsewhere in the Soviet Union. He doesn't mail them. There is no more society.

Prof. Larson encounters a small group of school children who have been rendered psychologically mute from the awful shock of nukes going off nearby. He struggles to takes them into his shelter.

This shelter is without clean steel walls, futuristic machines and sliding doors; it is makeshift, not a glorious "SF citadel" of safety.

There are remnants of Authority that stand in the Prof's way, but what can nuclear-shocked young men in soiled uniforms really do to stop the Prof? Given the little left of the entire world, why bother?

The black and white film, shot with blue and sepia filters (except for one vital scene) gives viewers little doubt that both sides in a full-scale nuclear exchange have suffered more than "getting their hair mused," as George C. Scott told his President in "Dr. Strangelove," and that one cannot run off to a mountain with one's family for a few weeks and drive back to the waiting arms of "The Authorities" to "help get civilization up and running" in short order as in Ray Milland's "Panic in Year Zero," however fun and interesting those science fictional, indeed Fantasy, stories assure.

The final scenes are haunting. Watching this film is not a pleasure. It is a duty--for all Humans.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:03 pm 
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Beware! 10,000 Posts, Baby!
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John F. Kennedy a genius? At what? Dr. Strangelove a serious film? That's a joke, right? :lol:

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:20 am 
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Certainly sounds interesting. A movie being a "duty" to view is high praise, indeed.

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