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Hilltop: A Literary Paper. Volume 1 Number 1

Film Notes — "Soviet Youth Parade, 1945"

Film Notes

"Soviet Youth Parade, 1945"

This film, despite an unfortunate showing in Wellington towards the end of last year, is so well worth seeing that any who are interested may perhaps have an opportunity of seeing it at Film Society screenings in the future. When it was at the Opera House it was first on the same programme as a return season of "Behind These Walls" (the story of Operation Jericho) which, although interesting, no longer had topical appeal and like most war films at present had lost the public interest. The following week the Russian film was paired with the very fine "Children of the Sea" to appreciative audiences, but most regrettably was cut to about half its length.

It was not quite adequately advertised and many, like myself, seemed to confuse it with a previous Youth Parade until they saw it and page 39 its excellence spread by word of mouth from the "Children of the Sea" audiences. 'Coo many people dismissed it as Russian propaganda and some who must have been peculiarly ill-informed affirmed that there were many complaints in this respect from those who went. Admittedly, in response to the advertisement of a politically-minded association, some two rows of enthusiasts formed a small proportion of the audience on one night but there seemed to be but the mildest of heckling and this from youths who found the unfamiliar aspect of the captions on the filming amusing. I understand that I myself have the reputation of being a die-hard conservative and it is true that I have no admiration nor sympathy for the U.S.S.R. That is why I feel I may be permitted to express my enthusiasm, completely unbiassed politically, for this film, to which I went three times in ten days.

The Russians have an instinctive sense of theatre and an apparent love of pageantry that, lacking satisfaction in Royal occasions, finds expression in massed colour and rhythm. Unfortunately, their natural artistic sense clashes with a somewhat garish sentimentality, apparent sometimes in Russian art, and particularly noticeable on the occasion of the Youth Parade. The film opens with superb shots of the Red Square, which in its vastness and splendid dignity provides a perfect background for any ceremonial. But its impressiveness was spoilt a little by adornments of tawdry great portraits of Soviet leaders and to some extent again in the processions, the natural beauty of the marchers in movement was detracted from by elaborate artificial symbols. But nothing could ruin the very real glory of this parade.

Although the crowds were immense, they seemed almost merely a carefully-planned background to the display and although there was often prolonged applause, all the real enjoyment of the day was quite obviously on the part of those taking part. And thousands of them there were, all absolutely loving every moment of the splendid hours. From the early arrival of the Corps Diplomatique and the Officers of State, with the dramatic entrance of Stalin himself (interesting to note that, perhaps not inappropriately, the Communists adhere to capitalistic red carpet for great social events), the cloudless sunlit day was filled with music and colour. Western organisers must envy that unrivalled weather, with just sufficient wind to set all the serried banners straining bravely. The colour-process used in the film was not entirely reliable and in the last reel everything, perhaps symbolically, was seen through a rosy-mauve shade; but in earlier sections the bright banners in their scarlet and gold and blue and green were fine indeed. Here one was swept away with the swaying banners and martial music. Nuremburg rally? Perhaps, on a more natural, less rigid, plan. The photography was brilliantly done and vantage points utilised to the utmost. The lack of commentary was no doubt some disadvantage—the sole word I understood was Eisenhower—but it didn't really seem necessary to understand what was being said. Such joyful enthusiasm on the part of thousands upon thousands of the youth of a great nation, radiantly beautiful in perfect physical fitness, has a universal appeal. If one ponders upon the intense devotion to endless hours of training that such military precision of discipline demands, and is disquieted at the thought that it is scarcely-disguised military training, and if one is sad at the thought that any country so rich in so wonderful a heritage of youth should fanatically seem to try to destroy hopes of a lasting world peace, yet even so one cannot but be cheered that in any country, no matter what its politics, there is a youth such as this. New Zealand may well be envious of such fine physique and glowing health. A democracy should well be able to achieve such results by rather different methods and were these our youth we need have no fear of tomorrow. I should like everyone in New Zealand to see "Soviet Youth Parade: 1945." I think it would be a salutary experience —perhaps we might even produce in our own youth a fitness to rival theirs. The Universities could play a very big part.

—A. A. Murray-Oliver.

The Editor and Committee wish to thank advertisers for their support of this new venture, also the Executive of the Students' Association; and our printers, Messrs. McKenzie, Thornton, Cooper, Ltd. Edited by J. M. Thomson.