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Why is Lenin the demon of the revolution?

Date: October 1, 2023 Time: 15:55:55

Yevgeny Mironov brilliantly played Lenin in The Demon of the Revolution, Georgy Fetisov – Grigory Zinoviev, Nadezhda Krupskaya – Daria Ekamasova and Karl Radek – Danil Lavrenov (from right to left). Photo: Still from the film.

On April 22, millions of people in Russia and abroad will remember that Volodya Ulyanov was born on this day 152 years ago in the Simbirsk province. Why did he change the fate of the empire and become known to the whole world as Lenin? On the occasion of the centenary of the October coup perpetrated by Ilyich, the director Vladimir Khotinenko premiered the series The Demon of the Revolution, then The Memorandum of Parvus and Lenin. inevitability. “On the eve of the next anniversary of the leader, KP asked the People’s Artist of Russia if he had found answers to difficult questions.


– You are both a director and one of the scriptwriters – What unexpected things did you discover about Ilyich?

– The material on Lenin is immense. About 1.3 million books have been written about him. I focused on the memories of him from the people who saw him and knew him. Including these people who traveled on that famous train from Switzerland through Germany, which in the spring of 1917 brought this whole team of revolutionaries to Russia. He interested everyone. And all the history of this train.

– And what did you read new?

– In many German testimonials, Lenin is designated as the number 1 figure in world history. He changed the world. And modern researchers in Germany are also looking at this seriously.


– And the confirmation that he was “the most humane person”?

– It was memories that contributed to this understanding – so what kind of person was he? It’s easier to say “yes, he was the devil with horns!”. But that’s the point, no. There were such moments in his life … For example, what we were not taught: Volodya Ulyanov could become a successful lawyer, but he did not become a merchant’s lawyer, because he considered him a scoundrel. And he, Ulyanov, refused to defend him, because he himself was a decent person. Or when his older brother Alexander was executed, 17-year-old Volodya went to drink vodka.

– But Ilyich did not drink anything stronger than beer?

– This is later, so I only drank beer and wine. And after the execution of his brother, she drank vodka. I looked for details where Lenin would appear as a man. No, not “the most humane person”, but there was no mischief.

And how did he walk behind Inessa Armand’s coffin, shocked, in a semi-conscious state? So was there a feeling?

– Did Lenin really wash the dishes in the cafeteria at the university, or did they come up with this on the set?

– No, this is a specific memory when they ate in that dining room. If this were a fiction of the writers, it wouldn’t work for me like that.

Vladimir Khotinenko believes that his Lenin is a mystical character.



– After the release of the film, you said that “the real Lenin is tough, he did not run and shoot like Stalin in his youth.”

– Yes, Lenin mainly sat in libraries and read books.

It was interesting for me to create a portrait of time and a portrait of this person in certain periods. It is not the final portrait. It is not a final verdict. It was during this period. When, let’s say, heavenly notes played a huge role.

– Explain.

– When, if that “German train” had not passed, God knows how everything would have turned out in the country and in the world.

– But “Lenin and German money” is a “speculative” and “mundane” topic, didn’t they tell you?

– No no. I have studied this topic in sufficient detail, believe me. Was there German money? Of course they were! They could not have been, it was obviously beneficial for the Germans to subdue Russia, but this is not the main thing. Money had a certain value, but the revolutionaries were financed not only from Germany, but also from the United States.

– Money and “heavenly tickets”, as you call them, are not very compatible, right?

– That’s not the point. I was wondering this: how could it be? So there were brilliant speakers. Trotsky, for example. And, perhaps, there were people smarter than Lenin. But for whatever reason, this little undertaker man was chosen for the lead role by a note of fate. He wanted to understand: why? What circumstances contributed to this?

– How do you understand?

– Until the end of this riddle will not be solved. How to make a final decision. But it was interesting to touch this period of history. And this character in particular. He is like Hamlet. He was chosen for this role by fate. This was something that I found extremely interesting.


– Did you start working on Lenin after the series “Demons”?

– Here – the Demon of the Revolution, Dostoevsky – Demons. And they’re not horned demons either. And Stavrogin is the most complicated figure, like Lenin. “We will raise such a storm,” Dostoevsky’s heroes say. The main thing is to seduce the youth. Dostoevsky’s genius anticipated the revolutions of 1917. Three of my films based on Lenin are an unconditional continuation of The Possessed.

– Why – Demon?

– There is Lermontov’s “Demon” – romantic. There is Vrubel’s “Demon”, mystic. My Lenin is such a mystical character. The words “positive”, “non-positive” hero are not applicable here. But this is in the sense that Vrubel has it.

– But after all, Trotsky was called the “demon of the revolution” – Didn’t that bother you?

– Yes I know. There is an interesting story here. Trotsky is outwardly closer to the image of the Devil. And in terms of energy, he could give speeches for 5 hours. And he was used in his train throughout Russia. Like a spirit hovering over her. But if we take the internal content, in depth, then, of course, the Demon of the Revolution is precisely Lenin. By the way, our hero, Parvus, was also called a demon by his contemporaries.

– You rejected the harsh characteristics of Lenin.

– This is a clear simplification that will not bring the solution to this mystery. Because the answer will be wrong. After all, Lenin seemed to be sitting down and preparing for the role. He for a long time he sat in Europe. Why do we insert this story with the Dadaists? Lenin lived in Zurich in a house opposite the “Cabaret Voltaire” nightclub, where this “carnival of madness” was born, he heard a cacophony of sounds, words. The story itself is wonderful. Yes, and here too, he seemed to be preparing for the role.


– Yevgeny Mironov is not the same Lenin as in the classics of Soviet cinema?

– Of course, the other. Mironov and I worked together on “Muslim”. Sometimes a gesture, plasticity, a fleeting facial expression can say more than words. We reduce the traditional “Leninist” gestures to a minimum. It was a little, but it was not emphasized.

There were no more than three candidates for the role of Lenin. But I quickly came to the conclusion that if Mironov doesn’t play this role, I won’t make this movie.

– Did you discuss this work with him after the screening?

– So they sat down at the table and discussed – no, this was not so. We’ve been pretty serious about it. And they took their responsibility seriously enough. Even on a metaphysical level, maybe it’s a bit… silly.

– “Demon” was on Russia-1 at the same time as “Trotsky” on Channel One, where Stychkin played Ilyich …

– I do not want to compare, evaluate, especially since the director of “Trotsky” is my student. However… I was more impressed by Mironov’s work.


– Berlin and Zurich shot in Budapest…

– And Petersburg. The former second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is sometimes referred to as the “capital of the six capitals”. There is literally a “corner of Germany”, “corner of Switzerland”. It’s unbelievable, but we also found Rossi Street there, and we didn’t have to go to St. Petersburg. Everything is reliable.

– Several historians-specialists in Lenin sharply criticized him, Professor Vladlen Loginov said about the film “lies and abominations” …

– I didn’t know, but if I did, I laughed. Well, Nietzsche is probably not more stupid than Loginov, and he said: “artistic truth is much more important than historical.” There is no such nonsense as “lies and abominations.” But there is an episode in the movie where these words sound literally. If we wanted to express it through artistic images, we were still relying on facts. Human memories are facts. But the same scene with Lenin was seen by one person in one way, and another in another. This was interesting.

– This work has collected many awards, including abroad. Whose assessment, surprised reaction?

– It is good that you, with your vision of Lenin and of the time, have been seen and heard where perhaps they have not been heard. As paradoxical as it may seem, a film based on Lenin was perceived with greater interest abroad than in our country. It seemed so to me. Shown in New York, London, Rome, Spain. The point, perhaps, is that Lenin and the revolution remain a painful wound for us. Perhaps unconsciously, even if we don’t physically feel this wound.

– Well, physically we can see Ilyich on the main square of the country in the mausoleum.

– I am personally for Lenin to be buried. Christian. And this is not born now in me. For a long time. Looking at a dead person is not good from any point of view. Someone, maybe it was in the tradition, we did not have such a tradition. And a normal burial is the culmination of that act that will bring this figure closer to normal perception.


– So, if in real life Lenin had not arrived on that train in the spring of 1917 at the Finland station in Petrograd, the country would have become completely different?

– Perhaps, all the same, it would have come to such a result, to the second revolution. I studied this moment in our history well enough to understand: the clash would have happened, with or without Lenin. There was land. The logic of development without Lenin could have been somewhat different. But with the same result.

– Did you start to look at the figure of Lenin in a different way after this great work?

– Without a doubt. This already happened during filming. No, there was no disappointment. I began to better understand his place and his methods. This does not mean that it has gotten better or worse. No. There is something that is more important than simplistic categories: bad – good. I began to see Lenin’s role in this process more precisely.

– And do you agree with German researchers that Lenin is the most ambitious figure in our history of the 20th century?

– As practice has shown, perhaps yes. Beginning of the century. I’m looking at a common part of the story. It’s certainly interesting that it was such a person who did all this. There are different historical figures on a world scale. Julius Caesar – greatness there. Napoleon, probably too, even though he wasn’t physically regal. And Lenin at the turn of the era is the most interesting character, without external greatness.


There were more than 14,000 monuments to Lenin in the USSR.

In Russia – 7 thousand.

5 thousand remain (1311 of them are included in the list of the Ministry of Culture).

In Ukraine there were about 5,500. There are 14 left.

Today in Russia there are 5167 streets named after Lenin.

In the rest of the world – 460.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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