Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists (1983)

“Don’t call me a former Communist, call me a former party member — because I’m still a communist, small c, in terms of wanting a cooperatively, communally controlled society where everybody has something to say about their life.”

Synopsis:
Former and current American Communist Party members speak about their involvement in this controversial political movement.

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Review:
This Oscar-nominated documentary offers a humanizing glimpse into the lives and convictions of diverse American Communists, both before and after HUAC — “created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties” — reached its zenith in the 1950s. As one interviewee explains, “I saw the Communist Party as a way of getting rid of an insane, erratic, irrational politic-economic system and bring into existence a rational, humane, humanistic society — socialism.” In addition to learning why American Communists felt so passionately about their cause, we hear their responses to Nikita Khrushchev’s condemnation of Stalin in a 1956 speech, which rattled most die-hard Communists to their core and was clearly responsible for the rapid decline in party membership. With socialism once again on the rise in America — and our collective memory notoriously short — this film remains an especially useful archival resource to consider.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Informative archival footage and interviews





Must See?
No, though it’s definitely worth a look for historical purposes. Your best bet for finding a copy is at your local public or university library.

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