Film Description: This Soviet political drama, directed by renowned Russian filmmaker Mikhail Romm, is an adaptation of a play by poet and journalist Konstantin Simonov. Released in 1948, the story is set entirely in America and follows Harry Smith, a former war correspondent who has previously spent times with, and has favorable opinions of, Russians. Smith is commissioned to write a book about the Soviet Union. However, it is quickly revealed to the viewer that Smith’s boss wants him to write a book titled, “Why the Russians Want War.” In this movie, the U.S. is not the land of free press or free speech, and newspapers are shown as being used by American imperialists to brainwash the American people and gear them up for war with the Soviet Union. It is worth noting that both in this film and in the director’s Meeting on the Elbe, it is the American elites that are shown to be the enemy and not the American people.
Scene 1: This opening sequence of the film is designed to show the class and racial divisions that permeate American society.
Scene 2: In this scene a “friend” of Harry’s pressures him into writing what his bosses want.
Translation from Russian:
Harry: “You think that Kessler won’t come?
Friend: “We will see. Listen Harry, I edit the foreign sections of the big yellow papers, all the dirty undergarments of the world everyday go through my hands. Don’t be a child, America is now doing big politics, we need Europe, we need the Balkans, we need the far east and the near east, we need all the seas, all straits, all islands and half islands of the whole world. We need war and for war we need a “bad” Russia.
What you are reading now in 1946 it’s child’s babble. Read our newspaper in one or two years; it will seem like Goebbels is editing it. Today you are thrown out on the street, in two years those like you will sit in prison. Go to McPherson, apologize, redo the book and get the remaining money and go home and be as quiet as a mouse and let me go because we really never met (had this conversation).
Harry: “Roosevelt died too early.”
Friend: “What? I don’t think so, he died very much on time”
Harry: “I don’t understand.”
Friend: “I am always surprised about how strong important progressives political figures die at the very minute when it’s convenient for those near to them.”
Harry: “You have lost your mind!”
Friend: “No don’t think so.”
Harry: “You want to say that…”
Friend: “I don’t want to say anything, I am just surprised.”