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My perestroika


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  • 1. • My Perestroika tells the story of five ordinary Russian people who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s on the side of the Iron Curtain. • “Perestroika” refers to the “restructuring” of the Soviet political and economic system through reforms introduced in 1987 by the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Warsaw Pact countries to the east of the Iron Curtain are shaded in red. Google image.
  • 2. Through the lives of these former schoolmates (all attended the same school: School 57 Moscow), they lived from the existence of the Soviet Union, to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990s, to the change in the political climate in the post-Soviet Russia. School 57 Moscow
  • 3. In the film, the memories and opinions of these five Russian people (a capitalist, a former punk rocker, married pair of history teachers, and a single mother who services billiard tables) “create a complex mosaic of challenges, dreams, and disillusionment of a generation.”
  • 4. Firstly, the filmmaker focuses on these five people from the last generation of the Soviet Union and emphasizes the drastic transformation of the political system in Russia during their teenager years to the fall of the USSR and economic depression, leaving them with no model to follow in the new society.
  • 5. • Secondly, the film portrays the difference between the adults (generation from the Soviet Union) and children (generation in democratic Russia or Russia Federation). • In other words, the children in the Russian Federation will never experience control under the USSR. However, in the perspective of the adults, now their lives are completely different then when they lived in the USSR. USSR Russian Federation
  • 6. Thirdly, the film shares the personal experiences of the five Russians. With this, the filmmaker takes the personal experiences to point out that although the five Russians are skeptical about the collapse of the Soviet Union during their youth and are allowing themselves to adjust to the democratic Russia, each of them are still a little nostalgic for the past. Therefore, in a broader sense, people coming out of the Soviet Union, at first, have difficulty of adjusting to the new society and political system, and mentally, it is nearly impossible to remove those memories of the USSR.
  • 7. Think about how difficult it would be to depend on “something” your whole childhood, and suddenly, you realize that “something” was corrupted.
  • 8. With this being said, how does Robin Hessman effectively convey her message or messages to his audience?
  • 9. The Five Russian People: a. Borya and Lyuba - married and history teachers at School 57 Moscow b. Andrei - a wealthy capitalist c. Olga - a single mother who services billiard tables d. Ruslan - a former punk rocker School 57 Moscow and Protests in 1990s a. Footage of School during USSR rule and after the collapse of the USSR. b. Footage of movements in the 1990s such as the conflict between the hardliners (people who were still supported for the old ways – Soviet Union) versus people who believed in progressiveness.
  • 10. • Borya is a history teacher at the School 57 in Moscow (school he attended as a youth during the power of the Soviet Union). • Borya, also Jewish, tried everything possible to subvert or destroy the political system. In the movie, he mentioned that even wearing a USA shirt made him considered an outcast or someone unsupportive of his country. • After the fall of the USSR, Borya is satisfied that his wife and him have the freedom to express and choose their own path.
  • 11. • On the other hand, Lyuba was a conformist. • In the film, Lyuba says she would salute the television when the Soviet hymn played, yet not fully comprehend why she was doing it. • After the fall of the USSR, her and Borya resigned from leading or participating in communist meetings. • Also, Lyuba questioned, after learning about the corruption of the USSR, if Lenin was good or not? What was true?
  • 12. • During the power of the Soviet Union, as a youth, Andrei wanted to join the Communist Party. However, although Andrei was considered the “perfect soldier,” he was rejected from the Party even though they accepted people who were incapable of work. He felt that this was unfair and the system was a mess. • After the collapse of the USSR, Andrei was interested in the new Russian capitalism and opened his store of French men’s shirts.
  • 13. • While Andrei thrives for Russian capitalism, Olga who was known to be the prettiest girl in school is a single mother and has a low- wage job. • Olga works for a company that rents out billiard tables to bars and other locations in Moscow. • Although nothing can compare to the existence of the Soviet Union, Olga feels that there is still an unfairness with the distribution of pay between men and women.
  • 14. • Ruslan is a former punk rocker who now plays the banjo for money in the metro. • During the communism to capitalism phase, Ruslan would play music that went against government. • In the 1990s, music was one way for people to channel their frustration about NATO and other communist organizations.
  • 15. How effective the film was in communicating its message? What worked? What did not work? Strengths? Weaknesses?
  • 16. STRENGHS: • Strong and a variety of sources especially the five Russian people (all had different occupations or their own story of being behind the Iron Curtain. Therefore, her message(s) were easily grasped. • The consistency of the film - the events were in chronological order, and it was simple to follow. • It not only provides content of the events, but an effective emotional reaction. • Very good transitions from one topic to the other.
  • 17. Weaknesses: • Truthfully, there is very few flaws in this film. • However, a very minor weakness in the film is some of the footage. I felt taking footage of the fish in the tank (which happened three times in the film) was not necessary.
  • 18. • What triggered the USSR to collapse? In the film, that information could be helpful to know (how and why it collapsed). • Although the five Russian people were good sources to use (especially with the different occupations or position(s) in society), why did Hessman not put someone who still supported the old ways (the Soviet Union)? It would be interesting to see his or her reaction to the new Russia Federation. However, it is possible that using someone who is pro-Soviet would weaken her points. • How did the USSR hide their primary plans from society? How did no one or very few know of the initial intentions of the USSR?
  • 19. • Next, the filmmaker directed this film primarily towards American audiences. • I feel that this is the first time where I actually see the normal everyday life in the Soviet Union. • I think the filmmaker wanted people, specifically Americans, to see if the portrayal of the Soviet Union was what they expected.
  • 20. • Most importantly, I think Hessman wants Americans to change their perspectives about the Soviet Union. • In other words, after watching My Perestroika, the audience should discuss and re-evaluate their previous views about the Soviet Union. Mostly likely, people could try to break apart stereotypes of life in the Soviet Union. • Finally, the filmmaker possibly wanted the audience to not only educate themselves about Russian life, but to also have an emotional reaction to the victims of the Soviet Union.
  • 21. Therefore, what is the role of the individual in the modern world?
  • 22. The main role of the individual in the modern world: – is to educate one another. This film functions as a way to educate Americans on Russian life and history. – is to get both sides of the culture. In order to achieve unity, people should educate themselves on both sides: the Russian life and the American life and culture. This would enable people to build more relations. – is to not let higher authorities intimidate you or instill fear in you to not achieve your goal (example: USSR).
  • 23. My Perestroika gives viewers an insight on five ordinary Russian people who have been psychologically affected by the collapse of the USSR in 1990s. With this collapse emerged a new generation of technology, music, new political systems, and so on.
  • 24. • Similarly, in the late 1960s, there was a quick transformation of the American society. • However, in the late 1960s, Nixon made a change to limit youth culture (music, art, etc.) with repercussions in the political culture. • The transformation of the American society in the late 1960s is similar to the transition from the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation. • However, the only difference is in Russia, they had to completely change their society and to adopt new political and economic systems. It was more transformative in Russia.
  • 25. In the end, after watching the film, it not only gave information about the the “daily life” in the Soviet Union and the transformation from the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation, but also people should not always depend on the government. People should have the freedom to choose their own path which, for the majority, happened to many Russians after the fall of the USSR.