Historical totalitarianisms


"How tall is King Kong ?"
Trying to make myself a list of serious movies about life under a totalitarian dictatorship.

That is, not fictional settings (no Brazil or Handmaid's Tale), not movies about sociopolitical violence in democracies (no The Hill, no Flight over a Cuckoo's Nest), and no movies about local bubbles of fanaticism (no Mississippi Burning, no Night of the Hunter). These are other (interesting) categories.

I'm looking for movies about openly totalitarian political regimes. Movies about society in Hitler's Germany or Stalin's USSR, in Pinochet's Chili or Ceausescu's Romania, The Colonels' Greece, the Taliban's Afghanistan, etc. Theocracies, communist and anti-communist dictatorships, etc.

The best core examples for me would be Costa Gavras films like Z (1969) or The Confession (1970). Or Bertolucci's The Conformist (1970). Or Timbuktu (2014), The Lives of Others (2006)...

Other movies that are (seen) or seem to be (not seen yet) relevant include :

[Updated list]
Rome, Open City - 1945
Army of Shadows - 1969
Z - 1969
The Confession - 1970
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion - 1970
The Conformist - 1970
A Special Day - 1977
The Tin Drum - 1979
Missing - 1982
The Killing Fields - 1984
Cry Freedom - 1987
Spider's Web - 1989
Schindler's List - 1993
Land and Freedom - 1995
Kandahar - 2001
The Devil's Backbone - 2001
The Pianist - 2002
Osama - 2003
Hotel Rwanda - 2004
The Lives of Others - 2006
The Last King of Scotland - 2006
The Kite Runner - 2007
Timbuktu - 2014
Clash - 2016
A Taxi Driver - 2017
The Swallows of Kabul - 2019

So, any movie in mind, that efficiently depicts ordinary courage and cowardice, social and physical violences, imposed compromises and opportunist complicities in historical, full-fledged totalitarian societies ?
Get working on your custom lists, people !

Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Cry Freedom (1987)
A Taxi Driver (2017)
Clash (2016)

Good topic. I'll be interested to see what other ones there are.

Well this may fall somewhat outside of those criteria as it's more of a general depiction of more local, present day systematic misuse of governmental power, but if you haven't already seen it then I'd say Leviathan (2014) is well worth a watch, whether it hits that target or not.

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I only remember loving this movie, and it was very political, but you might want to check the dates of the movie "La Terrazza", but it kinda satirical, so it might have been after the fall of Mussolini if I had to guess.

Good topic, and those Italian movies were good.

"How tall is King Kong ?"
So, I've added Aidanc's entries to my list. For now, that is at least until I see them and change my mind, I've left Leviathan out because it's more about corruption in a democracy (ok, a "democracy", given that it's Putin's Russia, but still) and La Terrazza because it gives me the impression of being more about the post-dictatorship than the dictatorship (I imagine it similar to C'eravamo tanto amati, which makes it a bit of a priority to check out for different reasons). So, only adding them to my general watch list for the time being.

I've also removed Die Welle from my list. I had put it there originally because it's directly about the fascist mindset but still not about life under an official oppressive regime.

And I've added Les hirondelles de Kaboul, a lovely animated adaptation of a (typically) brutal novel by Yasmina Khadra. For the curious, the list is shaping like this : https://www.movieforums.com/lists/custom/331

Europa, Europa 1990 - about a Jewish teen hiding out in a Nazi military school. I believe it was based on a true story

the Lives of Others 2006 - about a an East German Stasi police officer wire-tapping phones.

I'd posit Napola – Elite für den Führer [Before The Fall] as perhaps being applicable.
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Fashionably late to every party since 1473!

Jojo Rabbit
Enemy at the Gates
The Book Thief
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
A Hidden Life
The Last Emperor (parts of it)
The Killing Fields
The Death of Stalin
The Diary of Anne Frank

Am I missing something? Would have thought 1984 would have immediately come to mind.
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Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Does The Battle of Algiers count?

Am I missing something? Would have thought 1984 would have immediately come to mind.

Yeah you missed the "not fictional settings" part.

Yeah you missed the "not fictional settings" part.
I did miss this. But I see other fictional movies listed: A Special Day & Pan’s Labyrinth, for example.

Doctor Zhivago
The Black Book
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
Sometimes in April
Inglorious Basterds

I did miss this. But I see other fictional movies listed: A Special Day & Pan’s Labyrinth, for example.
I haven't seen A Special Day, but Pans Labyrinth is kind of like a fantastical dream from a child living in fascist Spain, so i'm guessing it counts because the setting and time in history is real, while 1984 is entirely fictional.