Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movie Review: Stalin

Lupus Pictures (released in 2003)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Communist schoolgirls get a sample of "capitalist education"

Victim Appeal:
Four lovely Czech women are severely caned in this intricate and rather humorous production. Katerina Tetova is the heroine of the story, set in 1950s Czechoslovakia. She plays Bozenka Novakova, a pioneer (the Party Youth movement) and daughter of an executed Trotskist. The other girls are pioneers as well. It is discovered that they have defaced a newspaper photograph of Stalin, adding a full beard and a Christian cross to the image of the Soviet leader. The pioneers insist that it was just a harmless prank while they were discussing Marxism and religion. But the school authorities, lead by the local political commissar, smell a "reactionary conspiracy". Since the girls are suspected of holding anti-Communist views, it is decided that they should experience a taste of the "Western capitalist ways" - that is, a thrashing with the cane.

All victims are gorgeous and have shapely, spankable bottoms. The Party Youth uniforms are cute, too. I like the red scarves. Eye candy aside, there is also some good acting. The meek and fearful demeanor of the girls adds nicely to the athmosphere. Each pioneer, including the minor roles, gets to say a few lines. It's always refreshing to have a full cast of characterers in a spanking movie rather than mute props. Makes the beatings all the more pleasurable to watch, doesn't it? Speaking of which...

Gratuitous Sadism:
Each girl gets a healthy dose of the cane. A female teacher carries out the punishment while the comminssar and the headmaster of the school watch. As the ringleader, Bozenka is chastised twice, at the beginning and at the end of the session. She is fully nude while the others get to keep their shirts on. The movie info by Lupus claims that each caning consists of 50 strokes, but I counted slightly different numbers: 49 (Bozenka), 45 (1st pioneer), 42 (2nd pioneer), 49 (3rd pioneer) and 46 (Bozenka reprise). But apart from pedantic Germans, who is going to complain? The strokes were not called out aloud, and we all know that it can be difficult to keep track once the adrenaline of a scene starts flowing.

In typical Lupus fashion, the canings are fairly severe and leave wonderful decorative marks, especially on Bozenka. After almost 100 strokes, her bottom is covered with angry, dark red stripes. Afterwards, the girls are made to remove their scarves as a sign that they have been expelled from the pioneers. Bozenka is taken away by agents from the state security - her ordeal will continue in "Stalin 2".

Best Reactions:
All girls have vocal and fairly similar reactions. After a lot of thoughtful hesitation, I would have to pick Jitka Mala, the blonde who plays the second pioneer. I'm a little surprised by my feelings here. Jitka flinches and trembles a lot. More than once, the headmaster has to admonish her to get back in position and hold still. I usually hate it when a bottom's reactions interrupt the flow of the punishment to such an extent, so this is a very odd choice for me.

But in Jitka's case, I find the commotion strangely arousing instead. Probably because it appears very genuine, without a hint of exaggeration. She just can't help herself - the caning goes some way beyond her comfort limit, and for an unapologetic sadist like me, that is fun to watch. In spite of her twitching, Jitka sincerely struggles for composure, which makes the scene even sweeter. With each stroke, she lets out a suppressed howl, sounding like a baby goat sometimes. It's pitiful and, therefore, great entertainment.

Best Line:
The overeager political commissar is the most amusing character. A pathetic zealot and opportunist, he churns out line after line of trite ideology, like a brainwashed automaton. It's hard to pick the best one. My favourite moment is probably when he admonishes the headmaster: "Comrade, you must keep your dialectic materialism attitude."

Nice Psychological Touch:
While the commissar is gung-ho and uncompromising, the headmaster and the female teacher are more sympathetic. Both do their best to placate the fanatical communist and get a bit of mercy for the victims. It's interesting to observe everyone's reactions while one of the girls is caned. Her comrades awaiting their own turn. The commissar as he gleefully looks on. The headmaster, who just seems unenthusiastic and eager to get it over with. Corporal punishment settings with an audience are always exciting, and the dynamics are very nicely captured here.

At the end of the film, it is revealed that Bozenka was right about one of her claims: as a young man, Stalin studied at an Orthodox seminary. It's a device often used by Lupus, reminding us that the hapless girls are the heroines here, while their main tormentor is either lying or ignorant.

How Good Is It Really?
As always, Lupus Pictures go to great lengths to create an authentic period setting. A lot of detail went into the props and costumes. As always, the girls look good and the canings are hard. However, what really stands out about "Stalin" is the almost perfect blend of brooding 1950's iron curtain drama and comedy. There aren't many obvious laughs, but the subtle absurdity of the whole scenario is palpable: how the authoritarian "system", personified by the political comminssar, responds to a trivial prank by the pioneer girls with unabated hysteria. Tragic, outrageous, funny, and of course entirely believable.

"Stalin" was followed by two sequels, both of which are more elaborate and a lot darker. But arguably, the first film is the most successful at capturing the everyday oppression of the time. It takes place at a "harmless" school, not in the dungeons of the state security, and even though the ordeal of the girls is less brutal in absolute terms, it seems more poignant in this setting. Highly recommended, both for the CP action and the story.

What You Learned:
I knew that Stalin was Georgian and that his real name is Jugashvili, but the tidbit about the Orthodox seminary was new to me. As a historian, I appreciate that. Kudos to the werewolves - you never know what you might learn from a spanking movie.


Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Great review as always, Ludwig. But what's with the picture? The woman doing the caning looks like a giant compared to everyone else.

Ludwig said...

"The woman doing the caning looks like a giant compared to everyone else."

True. I hadn't really noticed it before. It's regular Lupus domme Alexandra Wolf, and yeah, she does seem to be quite tall. I just had another look at the movie. She towers almost a foot over the girls, I'd say.

Looking at some pictures from "The Exchange Student", where you see her standing next to Niki Flynn (whose height I know), I'd say Alexandra is probably over six feet.

Just a tall woman, then! Not a bad trait in a domme.

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

"Just a tall woman, then! Not a bad trait in a domme."

NO, but it does lend a fairy-tale-like quality to the whole story -- as though it's something taking place in someone's dreamtime.

The fact that she's closest to the camera, and that the nearest girl is bent over, exaggerates her size, especially relative to the guys behind the desk. They look like dwarves compared to her. Mostly that's due to perspective foreshortening, but somehow this pictures deprives us of the clues to read that perspective unambiguously. All of which conspires to make for an interesting picture.

Pandora Blake said...

Great review, Ludwig. Thanks for writing this - not all Lupus films are for me, but I think I definitely want to try and watch this one at some point.


This is my favorite Lupus film, that I have seen to date. Not only great action scenes but a thought provoking story of how all the characters are put into an impossible situation by an innocent childish prank and how even the extreme measures taken where no protection from even worse consequences, illustrated by the arrival of the real bad guys at the end of the film. Thanks for reviewing ths.