Hundreds upon hundreds of arrested people are executed in a massive basement by the secret police force CHEKA. Andrey Srubov is part of this force and is just starting to understand what he is really doing.
Frankly, I don't think I should review "Chekist", but I just know I have to. It's one of those films I don't have enough to say about but at the same time I feel obliged to review it so that people will hear about it. I also think a film like this needs to settle into your head before you start talking about it, but that's not something I'm very good at. If I am given too much time to think before I review I will either just overthink it or forget to review it. That's why I'm writing this review now.
CHEKA is a secret police force established by Lenin. We follow these officers as they execute people day in and day out. The people they shoot are not always big criminals, but are still getting the bullet in the head. The people holding the guns seem completely unmoved by what they are doing - it's just their job. They don't seem to be filled with contempt, and not by regret either. This is something I think would be very true to life. After a while you'd be so used to what you are doing that you no longer understand the reality of it. I think that's the case with these police officers. And it's fascinating to watch. Brutal, yes, but the human race is such a weird thing to study. "Chekist" is just another source.
What's weird about "Chekist" is that there's not really that much going on. Almost half of the time we either hear them read the convictions and what they are sentenced too - more often than not they're sentenced to be shot to death. Five at a time against a wall. The other half we see these executions. They're realistic, dirty, cruel and amazingly straight forward. What I really felt got to me was the fact that most people just accepted it. But then we had those few who turned around to the officers/executioners and either said something, or did something. It was rarely someone trying to escape, but something small like praying to God or just looking at them. Even though it's a movie, it's done so realistic that it's a hard film to watch. An IMDb review said it best when it said it "...creates its power through repetition".
I can't analyze this movie because it's so far outside of my knowledge, but essentially it's about corrupted communists who think they can execute anyone they please simply because they don't agree with them. And it shows how natural the whole process becomes to them - just a step and repeat procedure. 5 people against the wall, shoot them, clean up and get the next 5 in place. It's brutally straight forward and bleak.
Our main character Andrey Srubov is finally the one who snaps and understands what he is doing. There are some interesting conversations where they seem to understand, but at other times they are completely blind to it. Even though Srubov eventually goes crazy, the movie is very slow and doesn't progress all that much, but the movie is great just like that. It would've been a good film even if Srubov wouldn't have gone crazy, maybe just less of an effective ending.
"Chekist" is another great Russian film that is way more bleak and depressing than most films from other countries. This is also a film that most people should watch - even if not for political reasons. It's something for the human interest. Something that shows the cruel nature of man, and also how we can literally accept any situation, and be manipulated by our surroundings.