Freedom is great, isn’t it? In America, you’re basically free to do what you want (so they say), say what you want (so they say), be what you want (so they say), think what you want (so they say), and even produce any film that you want (so they … wait … no, that’s true, basically). For some reason, those in the ‘Entertainment Class’ feel a constant need to use that medium to constantly kick this great nation in the balls not once, not twice, but repeatedly over and over and over despite the fact that – legitimately – they’ve made their point.
So … despite having made their point, along comes yet one more kick to the crotch to try to make their point for another 96 minutes non-stop. Bravo, writer/director/producer Slavko Martinov. Bravo.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of person who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Essentially, what one has with PROPAGANDA is not so much a documentary as it is a mockumentary. In order to give this gripe-fest a creative twist, auteur Martinov takes the idea of suggesting the film is actually a piece of leaked ‘education’ compliments of the North Korean government. (You know the one? The country run by that quirky little dictator? The guy who has his rivals executed? The schlub who thinks every nation outside of his is run by Satan?) Anyway, the product packaging suggests a North Korean defector dropped this DVD into the hands of someone named Sabine, and what you end up with is a bit of tongue-in-cheek clever web-based subversive film that probably gives Michael Moore wet dreams.
(Oh, yes, it does! Michael Moore has even heartily endorsed it between time taken off to scarf down a few American cheeseburgers!)
By mimicking a nation’s desire to propagandize against its enemy (insert “USA” here), PROPAGANDA tries to show that it’s actually the rest of the world (insert “USA” here, too) that’s actually wallowing in propaganda. Succinctly, it makes that point in the film’s first minutes … and then runs on what seems to be an endless loop for the next 90 minutes making, remaking, re-re-making, and restating the same critical point, which boils down to “Western Civilization = bad.”
Unfortunately, the measure of ingenuity PROPAGANDA takes in setting up its premise – the cinematic mirror reflects most harshly on those who blame us for wrongdoing – wears thin at about the fifteen minute mark. If you hang around after that, then (as I said above) you’re basically left with an endless parade of examples underscoring the point made … then made again … then made again … then made yet again … then made one more time …
Can you see where I’m going with this?
I’m all for a critical examination done with a helping of humor, and that’s why I stuck with PROPAGANDA until the bitter end. I honestly thought the film was going to somehow reinvent itself much in the same way it packaged its commentary by suggesting it was being delivered entirely from the enemy’s perspective. However, the film is little more than a one-trick pony largely celebrated by the intellectual Left because it keeps throwing stones at anything remotely American. Cleverness has its limitations, and that’s a lesson Martinov and his willing conspirators would do well to learn IF they want to be taken seriously by those who might not agree with them ideologically but are willing to endure a legitimate debate.
Despite what others may tell you, PROPAGANDA is its own propaganda; stupid is as stupid does.
PROPAGANDA (2012) is produced by Slavko Martinov. DVD distribution is being handled by MVD Visual. As for the technical specifications? Why, you’d think you were watching a real documentary except for all the hate it directs at the West.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. Clever, but it wears thin quickly. Yeah, I get it. You don’t like America. In fact, I suspect you don’t like much of Western Civilization. Doesn’t it just irk you to the core, though, that it’s precisely because of America’s existence that you have the freedom to express your opinion in such a biting and creative way? To the film’s benefit, PROPAGANDA essentially rips all stops on the political spectrum (not just the usual Conservative ones), but it’s still far too long, far too predictable, and far too uninteresting for those with more than half-a-brain.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MVD Visual (A Division of MVD Entertainment Group) provided me with a DVD copy of PROPAGANDA by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.