Valley of Time: The Fall of Berlin, starring Stalin’s Ego

This is the start of the Valley of Time, a blog dedicated to history, current events politics and other subjects related to the humanities. It’s a good place to stretch your noggin’ and learn something new!

Recently, while surfing on YouTube, I came across a scene from an old Soviet film while looking up examples of Soviet propaganda for a project I am working on. Oh boy, was I in for a treat. The film itself is The Fall of Berlin (1950) and the scene in question comes at the end of the film, when the Soviet Union has already taken over Berlin. And their version of events is quite… well let’s go through this shall we?

First of all, there is an almost angelic landing of Stalin’s massive personal plane, right there in the very heart of the ruins of Berlin itself. Wait what? I’m pretty sure this didn’t happen…

I’m sure Stalin didn’t quite make it to Berlin for a few months…

Also, there is a who’s who of people there ready to greet the dear leader, including, but not limited to, French, American and British soldiers, Soviet soldiers, and even concentration camp survivors made the trek to Berlin to see the man! The Allied representatives from the US and the UK are shown to be so giddy to see Stalin, almost subserviently, taking Westerners like myself by surprise. Yeah, we totally loved Stalin…

Glory to Stalin!!!!

Then we see the reunion of one of the main characters of the film, Alexei, with his love-interest, and concentration camp survivor, Natasha. After their reunion, Natasha thanks Uncle Joe by giving him a kiss. Cringe…

So naturally, everything is great, all hail Stalin, happy ending. Well, first things first, my critique of this in no means is meant to diminish the hard fought victory the Soviets had on the Eastern Front of WWII, a nation that of course lost around 26 million people, nor is it meant to diminish the relief concentration camp survivors had at seeing their liberators, which in the East would have been the Red Army. But this film plays it all up as being very Stalin-centric.

Seeing everyone greet the glorious Stalin in Berlin, perhaps mere hours after the fall of the capital, was just too rich and ridiculous for me not to comment on it, forcing me to open this blog earlier than I had expected… But it needs discussion. This film stars Mikheil Gelovani, an actor commonly associated with portraying the “Man of Steel” in Soviet films. During the war, there was a limit on Stalin-centric cinema as the focus had shifted to play more on older, patriotic motifs.

After the war, however, cinema Stalin was kicked back into high gear, and cranked to 11. This film is often cited as a classic example of how this cult of personality exemplified itself in Soviet cinema during Stalin’s reign. This sort of propaganda, with it’s central figure shown to be above and beyond all others as a hero, superman, whatever have you, inspired the equally eccentric North Korean propaganda we see today. Blowing Stalin’s image out of proportion, the audience is made to believe Stalin “was always there” in a literal sense; of course he would eventually attend the post-war Potsdam Conference, in Berlin’s neighbor city of Potsdam, in July to August of 1945. Gelovani’s role as Stalin wouldn’t last long after this; Stalin’s death in 1953 led to a complete dismantling of his cult by Nikita Khrushchev, who banned or altered all films featuring Gelovani’s Stalin. Gelovani himself would pass on in 1956, yet his films are often revisited as examples of the magnitudes Stalin-worship went to in Soviet media during his reign.

The film concludes with literally everyone and their mom yelling “Long Live Stalin!!!” in multiple languages.

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