Page 6 - Discover Summer 2021
P. 6

Editor’s Note

                                                              By Tim Ernandes

         Two films that I have recently watched have             What follows is a chaotic mélange of
      borne an eerie resemblance to current events:           intersecting plots, subplots, and betrayals, as
      The Death of Stalin, and Mr. Jones.                     the surviving Central Committee members

                                                              jockey for control of the reins of state. There
         In the former, obviously, the Soviet dictator
                                                              are numerous hints at hit lists of various high
      dies. His death is fairly quick and non-
                                                              ranking officials, at least one of whom makes
      descript; however, the events surrounding and
                                                              it obvious that his late wife had chosen her
      following his demise seemed all too familiar to
                                                              words poorly, resulting in her demise.

                                                                 The underlying theme in all of this is the
         It opens with a scene in a studio at
                                                              paranoia. In some respects, it parallels the
      radio Moscow, in which a full orchestra is
                                                              satirical To Be or Not to Be, in which Nazi
      performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23.
                                                              officers are manipulated through their fear
      The dictator enjoys the concert so much that
                                                              of saying the wrong thing, even in private,
      he sends a message to the radio station, asking
                                                              because someone may be listening through a
      for a copy of the recording. There’s only one
                                                              hidden microphone.
      problem: there is no recording. Highlighting
      the paranoia and sycophantic hysteria of living            The other film, Mr. Jones, deals with similar
      under such a tyrant, the station manager                subject material, but in a frighteningly realistic
      frantically scrambles to pull the live audience         setting. Whereas The Death of Stalin was
      back into the studio, and reassemble the                satirical in its depiction of actual events, Mr.
      orchestra. He needs an exact replica of the             Jones is starkly real. It tells the story of a young
      evening’s performance, so that he may record            British journalist whose mother had been born

      it.                                                     in the Ukraine.

         The ensuing madness is only exceeded by                 Jones has been hearing of the marvels of
      the panic that is created when Stalin suffers           the Soviet economy, in particular the “miracle”
      a cerebral hemorrhage while listening to that           of their abundant production of wheat, which
      recording. His guards are too afraid to enter           was exported in trade dealings. The fact that
      the room upon seeing his lifeless body on the           this wheat was being produced in the Ukraine

      floor, and it isn’t until the next morning that         sparked a keen interest in the subject, and he
      his housekeeper discovers his fate.                     essayed to learn more. However, the details of

      4      Discover Smith Mountain Lake  SUMMER 2021
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