Ten films and TV series about communism
There is no substitute for the testimony of actual victims of communist terror. However the following films can help to bring to life aspects of Communism and its history. Please be aware that most of these films are based on facts and things that happened but they are fictionalised and not factual accounts.
1. The Killing Fields. An American journalist works with and becomes a friend of a Cambodian man who experiences the Cambodian Communist take-over. It's one of the few on this list which depicts Communist Terror from the point of view of the victims. Won 3 Oscars. IMDb rating 7.9. Available DVD and on Amazon Prime Video. Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087553/videoplayer/vi4294181145?ref_=tt_ov_vi
2 Stalin. Made-for-TV film with a credible portrayal of Stalin by Robert Duvall. IMDb rating 7.1. Whole film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ5cTUkKTro
3 Katyn. Polish film following the lives of people who were affected by the mass killing of Polish officers by the secret police of the Soviet Union. Initially hard to follow but building up to a powerful ending. IMDb rating 7.1. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40odyHxnXNU DVD available.
4. Chernobyl. Grim but compelling TV series about the nuclear power accident which took place in Soviet Ukraine in 1986. Depicts bravery and self-sacrifice as well as bureaucracy, propaganda and rule by terror. Very highly regarded for realism and acting. It has achieved the highest ever IMDb rating of 9.6. Available on DVD and Amazon Prime Video. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9APLXM9Ei8
5. The Lives of Others. An agent of the Stasi, the East German secret police, becomes absorbed by the lives of a couple he is spying on. It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. One of the most popular films to deal seriously with Communism. IMDb rating 8.4. Available DVD and on Amazon Prime Video. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FppW5ml4vdw
6. Deutschland 83. Pacey, adventure/thriller German TV series about an East German spy who infiltrates NATO in Berlin. IMDb rating 8.1. A surprise hit on British TV. Plenty of sex and violence. It includes telling moments such as when the young spy first sees a Western supermarket. Available on DVD and through Channel 4 “On demand”. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4WIfrO0aig&fbclid=IwAR3OhnFqPhjcKBP62C_46MkS9nXIRErL80CM6v23DBW_TAPSPa71AxDaLas
7. The Death of Stalin. Black comedy about Soviet leaders vying for power after Stalin's death. IMDb rating 7.2. Opinions differ over whether the comedy works but it has some powerful moments. It's worth looking up which actor is meant to be which real life person. See https://slate.com/culture/2018/03/whats-fact-and-whats-fiction-in-the-death-of-stalin.html. DVD, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
8. Life and Fate. Excellent Russian TV series based on a celebrated novel. Primarily focussed on the Battle of Stalingrad but with stories of women who have sons, lovers and husbands in the battle, a scientist accused of being politically unsound and the activities of the NKVD. IMDb rating 7.6. Amazon Prime Video.
9. Good Bye, Lenin! Gentle comedy. A young man works hard to pretend to his unwell mother that her beloved Communist East Germany continues whereas in fact the Berlin Wall has fallen. IMDb rating 7.7 Available as DVD and on Amazon Prime Video. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5hzmwGW4Ac
10. Child 44. Violent drama set in the Stalin era in which a Russian military police officer investigates a series of child murders. IMDb rating 6.5. Available on DVD and through Amazon Prime Video. Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1014763/videoplayer/vi1915792921?ref_=tt_ov_vi
Another film set in the Soviet Union offers light relief:
The Irony of Fate (or Enjoy Your Bath). Delightful romantic comedy. A classic in Russia watched repeatedly. IMDb rating 8.3. DVD available.
This is not a trailer but an idiosyncratic introduction to the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93r23NYla_E
Notes: There is a lack of available films set in Communist China which is unfortunate since China had the highest number of deaths under Communist rule.
The above films are just a small selection of films relating to the Communist era. There are plenty of others worth seeing such as Milada and Mr Jones.