Notebook

Dear Comrades

On Wednesday this week, the President of the Russian republic made a speech that began with the address, ‘Esteemed friends’, and ended with the phrase, ‘I believe in your support’. In between those statements lay a proposition of alternative reality. The stakes of absolutism, which Europeans thought was a superseded stage of societal development, are making themselves felt with force, not far away. This is a time to be mindful of where such tendencies lead. One way of doing so might be to watch Andrei Konchalovksy’s 2020 film Dear Comrades, a re-enactment of a massacre that took place in western Russia in 1962, when Red Army soldiers and KGB snipers opened fire on unarmed striking workers. As Peter Bradshaw wrote in his Guardian review last year, ‘Anger burns a hole through the screen in this stark monochrome picture’. What is our response, yours and mine, to the violent insult to righteousness being committed before our eyes?