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A Recommended Film – Disco and Atomic War

Popularity 6Viewed 4207 times 2017-2-27 01:54 |System category:News| Disco, Atomic, War, Estonia, Finland

It was been a lively couple of months to the new year that is 2017 around the world.  In my neck of the woods that is the U.S. – President Donald Trump has been the source of a good deal of humor and/or dread, no matter which part of the political spectrum.  Europe is a buzz with the idea that the E.U. will reeling with changes in France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere that will be greater than the ‘Brexit’ of last year.  P.R. China, much like Japan and Russia, are still trying to come to grips with the modern soap opera that is the Kim family in the DPRK – especially with the events that are unfolding in Malaysia.  It is with the focus on the DPRK that I was investing sometime at the Hinsdale Library, taking a look at their quite extensive foreign language film collection, that I found myself introduced to a quaint little slice of the Cold War – the Estonian film ‘Disco and Atomic War’ (http://icarusfilms.com/new2010/disco.html).

 

To quote the Icarus Films Website: “Winner of the Best Documentary prize at the Warsaw International Film Festival, this witty, charming, and provocative film recounts how in the mid 1980's, the nation of Estonia still lay firmly in the grip of the Soviet Union, and the repressive authorities controlled virtually all aspects of Estonian life. The totalitarian government's power was derived in no small part from their ability to censor cultural life and keep Western culture on the other side of the border. Rock and Roll was but a rumor and the only television shows on the air were dreary propaganda. But one day everything changed. Just a few miles across the border in Finland, a huge new television antenna was built that broadcast western signals in all directions--including directly into the heart of the Talinn, the capital of Estonia.

 

Filmmakers Jaak Kilmi and Kiur Aarma grew up in Talinn in the 80's, and in DISCO AND ATOMIC WAR they make use of wonderfully playful but credible recreations to set their true personal coming of age story against the backdrop of the rapid collapse of the Soviet government in Estonia. As illicit television antennas sprung up in Northern Estonia, rumors about the attempted murder of J.R. Ewing spread by word of mouth to the rural south, and the nation of Estonia was as gripped by the saga as the USA had ever been.

 

Teenagers went to their school dances and imitated the disco moves they saw on television, clothing and hairstyles began to change radically, and things would never be the same. The government controlled media scrambled to create western-style soap operas and disco-saturated television programming that vaguely reinforced communist values, but it was far too little, and much too late. The genie was out of the bottle, Estonians were now in the grip of American television, and they began to dream that one day, they too would spend their days working in skyscrapers and their nights drinking fine whiskey by the pool, alongside their robot car.

 

To say this film, and the accompanying film “Lotman’s World” on the Icarus Films DVD, is quirky would be an understatement – but there is an underlying charm to both films.  Given the arching themes of Semiotics (i.e. The study of signs and symbols and how they are used – per Merriman Webster’s Dictionary) in both films – I am drawn to the parallels in the activities by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People's Republic of China (SAPPRFT) and the former Estonian SSR officials – especially the Great Fire Wall and attempts to place a ‘steel net’ between Estonia SSR and Finland to block all TV signals.  Yet, much like policies that are ‘too little, too late’ – it appears that the preverbal genie has been let out of the bottle.  One only has to view the work of a pair of ‘vloggers’ with ADVChina (http://advchina.net/ and https://www.youtube.com/user/churchillcustoms) and their posted adventures around P.R. China to see the amount of influence that Western shows and culture has permanated the length and breath of the ‘common folk’.  Question is, can the powers to be in Beijing take the time to read ‘the Semiotics of Film’, and learn a path that the powers to be in Tallinn and Moscow failed to do?

Original Poster Art for the Film - with a few edits to avoid being 'too naughty'

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (26 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2017-2-27 08:50
thanks for sharing your story here, we would like to highlight it on the homepage.
Reply Report HailChina! 2017-2-27 15:25
Estonian cam girls will snort like a pig for a few western dollars.
Reply Report tradervic 2017-2-27 21:15
HailChina!: Estonian cam girls will snort like a pig for a few western dollars.
HC... good grief man, is this the best insult you can cook up?  I am disappointed.
Reply Report HailChina! 2017-2-28 07:56 (Pending for approval)
Validation failed
Reply Report mauriciomunhoz 2017-3-7 00:30
thanks for recommendation
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-7 19:52
An interesting narrative, but utterly unconvincing, as evidenced by your cold-war era mentality in interpreting modern day China.
Are you really well-versed in the affairs concerning China? I bet you aren't.
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-8 00:21
Liononthehunt: An interesting narrative, but utterly unconvincing, as evidenced by your cold-war era mentality in interpreting modern day China.
Are you really well ...
{smile} I take it that you have watched Wilson and C-Milk then?
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-8 09:56
Honestly I really can't afford to indulge in watching videos or movies as you do.  Got a lot of more serious things to do.
By the way, are all your arguments informed by dramas or movies?
Reply Report GhostBuster 2017-3-8 15:58
Majority of westerners are living in the era of a strong Europe. Few dare travel far and in China. Reason is they do not know that there other countries beside theirs. Fortunately, Chinese venture abroad and learnt. The same will happen if Chinese becom complacent, sink and stuck in the same spot since birth. True enough, there are people who live almost their entire lives in foreign countries but could not speak a word of foreign language. Reason being they do not need to their environment. Not strange but you get to know them if you stroll down streets in San Francisco!
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-9 05:29
Liononthehunt: Honestly I really can't afford to indulge in watching videos or movies as you do.  Got a lot of more serious things to do.
By the way, are all your a ...
Nice attempt at a dodge... but cited samples are cited samples.  Usually there will be an attempt to refute what is cited or present citations to support a counterclaim.  
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-9 09:56
tradervic: Nice attempt at a dodge... but cited samples are cited samples.  Usually there will be an attempt to refute what is cited or present citations to supp ...
You have read too much into my candid reply, Here I see a proclivity for being melodramatic.
It appears you have spent a substantial amount of time watching dramas and movies, apparently to a fault.
Again, are all your arguments informed by dramas and movies?
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-10 03:57
Liononthehunt: You have read too much into my candid reply, Here I see a proclivity for being melodramatic.
It appears you have spent a substantial amount of time wa ...
Ah... "Dramas and Movies" = fiction or "Dramas and Movies" = Documentaries in various media formats (Movie, Television, Vlog, etc.)?  I would latter than the former - given the old adage 'a picture tells a thousand words'.
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-10 11:03
tradervic: Ah... "Dramas and Movies" = fiction or "Dramas and Movies" = Documentaries in various media formats (Movie, Television, Vlog, etc. ...
A picture tells a thousand words, good one, though seemingly.
A thousands words could possibly be a thousand lies, if you watch a Nazi documentary covering the events during that time.
So please come up with another reason to justify your over reliance on dramas and movies for drawing conclusions on serious affairs, for this one is not good enough.
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-10 21:20
Liononthehunt: A picture tells a thousand words, good one, though seemingly.
A thousands words could possibly be a thousand lies, if you watch a Nazi documentary cov ...
Hm... looks like you are finally getting to a point.  So... are you stating that this Documentary is a lie?  If so, on what grounds?
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-11 11:13
I can't believe that you have failed to see my point all along. Are you just kidding around or simply obtuse? Either way, I would be really disappointed.

Or you know little about the subject of cognition, while totally being unaware of the various types of cognitive biases you exhibited throughout your discourse, which you might have acquired through obsession with one-sided stories in the form of dramas and movies.

By the way, I suggest that you write a piece on the hypocrisy of the US media, by comparing the reporting of liberal and conservative media outlets, like CNN vs Fox News, this is a topic you might be more knowledgeable than you do any China topics.

Get my point?
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-24 08:13
Liononthehunt: I can't believe that you have failed to see my point all along. Are you just kidding around or simply obtuse? Either way, I would be really disappoint ...
Cognition (noun) - the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

This what you are talking about, yes?  If so, then you are taken aback at this Documentary, because of... ?
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-24 12:36
Please keep learning about cognition, there are a lot more about cognition for you to mull over than simply looking up the definition of this particular term, e.g confirmation bias.
Please find a book, do some serious research in it, and refrain from shooting from the hip dishing out feeble rejoinders like this one.

Again I sincerely suggest that a piece on the US media's hypocrisy might be up your alley, as you have been steeped in it for your entirely life, and you might have been fed with discourses from different perspectives, so chances are good that you come up with something balanced, unbiased on this topic.
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-24 22:42
Liononthehunt: Please keep learning about cognition, there are a lot more about cognition for you to mull over than simply looking up the definition of this particul ...
It has been interesting to watch your responses to my review of this Estonian Documentary, and you have had a better go that HailChina - but at the end of the day, you still have not seen the film, have you?

Regardless, I will be posting another article this weekend, and it will fun to see what level of retorts you may or may not have for it.
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-24 23:10
tradervic: It has been interesting to watch your responses to my review of this Estonian Documentary, and you have had a better go that HailChina - but at the en ...
Weird retort on your part ...
Have you started working on the piece I suggested for you? I suppose it won't be too hard for you, right? I would be sort of disappointed if your next blog is not about Western media's hypocrisy.
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-27 00:13
Liononthehunt: Weird retort on your part ...
Have you started working on the piece I suggested for you? I suppose it won't be too hard for you, right? I would be so ...
Have to ask - since you keep harping the same point - did you read this?  http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-135031-38053.html

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