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"Dr. Zhivago": One More Reason Hollywood Needs to Be Stalled

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik February 14, 2006 at 4:40AM

"Dr. Zhivago": One More Reason Hollywood Needs to Be Stalled
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Hollywood (and the U.S.) likes to beat the drums of its own demise (or vulnerability) in order to solidify its global domination. Is the whole box office slump story hyped by the studios in order to strengthen its negotiating power in overseas markets? Do they try to position themselves as victimized underdogs, so they can further tighten controls on "free use" and internet distribution? It's like all the right-wing Christian groups who came out during Christmas, claiming they were the persecuted minority. . .

These tangential thoughts came to me when reading an article in the New York Times "Time to Come Home, Dr. Zhivago" published yesterday. In the story, the writer describes a wave of new Russian films being made in order to reclaim the country's history and identity from pseudo-Russian Hollywood productions like David Lean's 1965 romantic epic "Doctor Zhivago."

"They have breathed this air," author Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's wife Natalya, said of the latest adaptors of her husband's novel, "The First Circle," one of many recent books to be turned into films. "And if not they themselves, then their parents have. It is our common recent history."

But Hollywood doesn't want Russian filmmakers -- or Korean filmmakers, or Japanese filmmakers, or German filmmakers -- to tell their own stories. No, they want to tell their stories for them. It's the kind of standard cultural imperalism that the U.S. prides itself on, as it tries to cut quotas in other countries and steal indigenous filmmakers for their own ends (just see Fox adopting Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's "Night Watch" for their own franchise entry "Dusk Watch") . Some people call it simply globalization. But I think the term is misleading: It's really Americanization.