The Adventures of the Little Red Devils

Main Characters in “The Little Red Devils”

The Little Red Devils, written by P. Blyakhin is  Russian Revolution adventure story about two young revolutionaries who find themselves at the fore front of the revolution.  The film begins with the two main characters (Mishka and Dunyasha) working in a camp that is overseen by anti-revolutionaries.  Suddenly, a band of anarchists led by Makhno attacked the work camp killing Dunyasha’s brother and father among other people.  Mishka and Dunyasha make a daring escape from the attack and go straight to a wig shop where they get fitted for beards and wigs.  Posing as old men, they go back out onto the streets only to find themselves in a scuffle on the streets.  They save a black man by the name of Tom Jackson from the scuffle who joins their adventure to join the Red Army.  Once they stumble upon the Red Army camp, they are made scouts by the revolutionaries there.  The new scouts go out and find a party of White soldiers and take them prisoner, killing one who fires a shot at them.  After finding out some valuable information, they infiltrate a White army camp where they steal an attache case “filled with papers”.  They make a daring escape from the camp whilst White soldiers gave chase where the scene ends dramatically with the three scouts escaping from the dense forests.
This movie is a very romantic idea of the revolution which I feel is a common theme with Soviet entertainment and culture.  This story is about teenage age kids who escape a raid, dress as old people, join the revolutionary movement, and infiltrate a camp.  This story portrays the Revolution in a positive light while demeaning the White army and Makhno.  The demeaning of the White army (which is who the Red Army/revolution is against) and Makhno (a hated anarchist who was “demonized by Soviet Culture” [Geldern and Stites,p. 37]) are exemplary of the revolutionary culture .  I felt like this movie scene was comparable to the silent film  that we watched where the revolutionaries are portrayed as justified in their rebellious actions.  Another similarity that I saw between the silent film and The Little Red Devils is the fact that the revolutionaries were never one person, it was always a group.  In The Little Red Devils the kids band together and go on their adventure and the sailors in the silent film all band together to revolt.  This is a characteristic of Soviet culture where everything is done in a group; it’s not an individualistic culture.  In the revolutionary culture everyone works as a group and this is what these movies show.  In The Little Red Devils, there is also a part where Tom Jackson joins the group and makes mention about how the revolution supports equality for all, which is also a characteristic of the Revolutionary culture.  It was no mistake that the author of the script put an African American in the movie to emphasize the equality of all people.
This film was very interesting. I thought it was a vey romantic and adventurous movie that was entertaining to read but it was also a good representation of Soviet Culture. The author took some common Soviet themes and tied them in well with the movie.  I enjoyed reading this film and hope that the Soviet literature I read continues to entertain me.
Geldern, James Von, and Richard Stites. Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995. Print.

5 thoughts on “The Adventures of the Little Red Devils

  1. I think we all agree that “Little Red Devils” entertained! But did it also enlighten? How would it compare to Potemkin as a box office attraction? (I know it’s hard to imagine LRD in its full glory without the film itself….)

  2. Sorry – hit enter before I stopped typing. I’m wondering if you think that LRD is “revolutionary” in the way that Potemkin is? It’s definitely about the revolution, but what is innovative or radical about the form?

  3. I agree with how “Little Red Devils” is entertaining, and how it definitely glorified the Red Army and the Revolution. It also reminded me of American westerns in a way. I found that interesting, because the Soviets obviously found Western culture as something to be abhorred, rather than celebrated, but it seems as though their propagandists still found some aspects of Western entertainment to be helpful to their own cause. Great post!

  4. You made a good point that these revolutionary films seem to always involve groups as the protagonist rather than specific people. It feeds into the whole idea of the Soviets, that they are many commoners united as one. The film definitely is romanticized, but I realized that it isn’t unique to the Soviets. It reminded me of the movie “Red Dawn,” about how a group of teenagers fought off a Soviet invasion of the US. Both scenarios are highly unlikely, but maybe it is done just for the entertainment value over the propaganda value. The film seems strange and cheesy to us, but it doesn’t seem to be much different than many of the movies we watch.

  5. You bring up a good point of how the teenagers in LRD go through all their adventures as a group, which is very communist. I understand trying to get the point of equality across but a black man Tom Jackson (maybe an American?) seems pretty progressive for the early 20th century.

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