Thursday, 20 June 2013

REVIEW - PUSSY RIOT - A PUNK PRAYER


As cinema-goers the world over flock to Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness and Iron Man 3, abandoning reality and embracing fantasy, leave it to the documentarians to shine a light on the true state of the world. And these people will exit their cinema screens, perhaps exhilarated by their weekly bout of mindless escapism, to re-enter a life in which inequality and discrimination reign supreme. The charged and eventually convicted members of Pussy Riot didn't want to be martyrs, they wanted to be activists. Understandably, they have trouble seeing it this way, but Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer makes the argument, whether intentionally or not, that their victimisation and incarceration under grotesque Russian law is a body-blow that they must endure. The more they suffer, the more they inspire, and the more the citizens of Russia, and indeed the globe entire, watching and listening intently, begin to wake up. It's an uphill battle, for sure, and we're barely one foot up the hill even today, but we can only move up from here. The lack of context in this HBO-produced documentary is no hindrance - who needs context to know for certain that there's a whole lot of rot at the heart of Earth's largest country, still reeling from the grip of Communism? A lawyer here argues that things are no better now than they were under the Iron Curtain, and I can't disagree: the global pressure on Communism backed it into a corner, whereas now Russia is endorsed by its former foes. The intense social conservatism that drives its government and its populace is supported within its borders, and given credence by implicit international consent. Maybe the filmmakers lay on the sympathy and heroism cards a little too heavily at some points, but their hearts are obviously in the right places. The awful truth is that feminist movements like Pussy Riot need never have existed were it not for the fearful tyranny imposed on women by men throughout history. If they want to fight back, Mr. Putin, they have every right to do so. And you have no right to do anything but stand there and take it.