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Orange Winter (DVD Review)

12 Oct, 2008 By: Holly J. Wagner

Orange Winter

Street 10/14/08
Passion River
$29.95 DVD
Not rated.

We Americans love to bask in our smug feeling of superiority over the former Soviet Bloc countries, their culture and their government. That makes Orange Winter doubly relevant, as the United States lurches toward socializing insurance companies and bank losses. Could tent cities be far behind?

The film is thought-provoking, if not as stylish as Americans are used to. No high-concept stunts, no special effects. Just political theater. Director Andrei Zagdansky uses slow narration ranging from simple to poetic to guide viewers over news footage, Russian opera and cinema clips to illustrate the march of history and how little has changed in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.

What American viewers will find galling is how the film shows the similarities to our own situation as we approach the 2008 presidential election: anointed heirs apparent to leadership, pandering press, corrupt politicians and disgruntled voters — hey, we can all see Russia from our houses!

Descriptions and footage of the 2004 Ukrainian elections should strike a chord with anyone who remembers impossibly close election results, hanging chads, and lost and disqualified ballots. While none of our candidates have turned up poisoned yet, the other similarities will have us watching for that next.

American citizens should take note of those similarities, and American politicians would be wise to consider that high unemployment means a lot of people with time to take to the streets.

It’s a genuine shame that the American electoral system seems to be getting more like the Russian one, instead of the other way around. The big differences: a stolen election sent Ukrainians into the streets in what became the Orange Revolution, while Americans just went to the mall. In the Ukraine the Supreme Court ultimately declared the election invalid.

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