Circus

The Soviet film, Circus, made in 1936, was about an American Circus artist who was performing in the Soviet Union.  She had left the United States in favor of the Soviet Union because of the racial intolerance towards her and her black son.   The aim of the film, Circus, was to demonize the west, particularly the United States and Nazi Germany, for their inequality and racism.

One of the most vivid scenes came at the end of film when a man looking like Hitler stopped the Circus and attempted to demonize the American circus artist for giving birth to a black child.  He stated that it was “a racial crime! She should be banished from civilized society!”1 This part demonized Nazi Germany because it showed how Hitler and Nazi Germany did not tolerate variations from what they wanted in a pure ‘Arian’ race.  The line struck me in that it sounded a lot like Hitlers views toward the Jews.  During the 1930s, Hitler and the Nazis goals were to banish the Jews from Germany.  By the end of World War II, they were exterminating them.  At the same time Nazi Germany was being demonized, the United States and its capitalist system was also demonized for its racism and inequality.  During the first half of the 20th century, racism in the United States had been wide spread.  Black people in particular, were demonized for being different.  As a result, they were segregated for being different.  In the Soviet Union, these differences and intolerances were not supposed to exist.  During the last scene of the film, the black child was taken away from the man looking like Hitler by the crowd.  The crowd then took in this child as someone who was no different than them.  They celebrated the fact that he was someone who could become a great Soviet worker.  They did not care whether he was white or black.  The child, according to the Soviet Union, could experience all the benefits of working in a classless society.

On a different note, what do you think the idea of a circus represents in the Soviet Union?  Does it try to emphasis the importance of a Soviet worker being fit for work?  Or does the circus represent something vastly different?

  1. Film: Circus []

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