Opening in Moscow (1959)

Director: D.A. Pennebaker

Opening in Moscow is about the 1959 American Exhibition in the USSR.  The event was meant to spread the US capitalist perspective in the Soviet Union, but the documentary provides some interesting insight into the response by some of the attendees of the exhibition.  The reactions of the attendees, as well as focusing on contrasting the exhibition itself with normal life in Moscow are the focus of the film.

The every day shots of Moscow are interesting by themselves, as they serve as a simple portrayal of the late 1950s USSR in a way that is not trying to demonize it.  This normalcy that is demonstrated is perhaps meant to be a shock to the American audience, a sort of “look how the Soviet citizens actually have lives apart from political repression” kind of attitude.  Of course, the idea that this should come as a shock is itself problematic and demonstrates a level of propaganda and misconception about the Soviet Union, especially during the period this documentary was made.

Overall the documentary is an interesting inquiry into the differences between the USSR and USA.

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