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A Recommended Film – Disco and Atomic War

Popularity 6Viewed 5428 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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Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-27 10:14
tradervic: Have to ask - since you keep harping the same point - did you read this?  http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-135031-38053.html
In fact, I have read it before, and just did not bother to make any comments on it, as it basically presents the same narrative as your this blog, which is equally long on rhetoric and short on substance.
One more suggestion: drawing on myth in addition to movies and dramas to craft your theses won't do you good in debates.
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-28 09:36
Liononthehunt: In fact, I have read it before, and just did not bother to make any comments on it, as it basically presents the same narrative as your this blog, whi ...
{arched eyebrow}  Okay... this is getting odd.  Figured this article would have been retired from the front page of the Blog Index Page by now, but... if it has not because of our back and forth conversation - so be it.

To wit, I ask about your last bit of commentary, "myth"?  Which item in this article, or my article about the app Candid, was working with mythical elements?
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-28 12:14
tradervic: {arched eyebrow}  Okay... this is getting odd.  Figured this article would have been retired from the front page of the Blog Index Page by now, but... ...
Did you mean I wouldn't be able to read the prior blog of yours, to which you presented a link. Can't believe that you are puzzled by it.
Seriously, you really can't see the mythical elements in you remarks?
Reply Report tradervic 2017-3-29 02:46
Liononthehunt: Did you mean I wouldn't be able to read the prior blog of yours, to which you presented a link. Can't believe that you are puzzled by it.
Seriously,  ...
No... I was remarking on how you did not add a comment on that article.  Regardless, which elements in this article (or in the video that I am talking about) did you find mythical?
Reply Report Liononthehunt 2017-3-30 15:13
The first quote was to the leader of a neighboring Greek City/State after he attempted to impress the Spartan King with the massive walls he has had erected, “What Splendid Women's Quarters.”  With that perceived slight, more than a few leaders around the Greek world ask the king about Sparta’s defenses, to which he would point to the men of Sparta and say, “These are Sparta's Walls.”
Reply Report tradervic 2017-4-3 10:51
Working from quotes taken from the book "On Sparta" by Plutarch, a Greek Historian who lived during the 1st Century AD.  I had posted a link to the book, which was available on the Google Book Archive - but it looks like the mods did not approve that post. :(  Que sera.  Sera.

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tradervic

China's Eccentric 'Uncle Laowai' from Chicago, IL

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  • Yellow Man’s Burden - The Limits of Power Projection Shown with the Belt and Ro 2017-7-6 16:07

    tradervic: Because I have seen both the benefits and the perils that policy can bring.  No country is an 'island upon itself', to which short term gains are swal ...
    The chances you would surprise me are slim to none. As I know too well your mentality on China issues.

  • Yellow Man’s Burden - The Limits of Power Projection Shown with the Belt and Ro 2017-7-6 11:04

    Liononthehunt: Let me teach u what APRIORISM is:
    To start out with principles from the first (a priori) and use them as the basis for accepting or rejecting facts is ...
    Because I have seen both the benefits and the perils that policy can bring.  No country is an 'island upon itself', to which short term gains are swallowed by long term losses.

    Anywho... depending on the mods, my next article may actually surprise you.

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