Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Man on a Tightrope"

Earlier this week Fox Movie Channel showed a very interesting movie from 1953 by Elia Kazan. "Man on a Tightrope" was about a circus escaping communist Czechoslovakia. I remember seeing it, but not really understanding it, when I was about six. It is well worth watching. Here is what one of the IMDB reviewers had to say,

This is a particularly fine film, but the other users missed an item that I would like to mention. Namely, communism or, rather, the specific type of communism which was practiced within the old Soviet Empire, was a subtle poison to the human spirit. In a critical scene, just before the fatal run across the border, the Circus manager questions a roustabout about his betrayal of his community(the Circus) and everyone whom he ever knew there. This man, with a straight face, announces that he and the other manual laborers are the heart and essence of the circus. Along with the movie audience, the manager(played by veteran actor Frederick March) is shocked that anyone could convince himself that people come to see him and his fellows, not the aerialists, not the lion tamer nor even the clowns. There are no paranoid political rants here, but that form of communism is "busted" for its "divide and conquer" tactics. People took appalling risks to flee communism and this film gives the viewer part of why they were willing to take them. I couldn't imagine then and I can't imagine now that "a higher standard of living" was the reason for this.

Keep an eye out for it an watch it if you get the chance.
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