By: Addison WyliePropaganda poster

I began watching Propganda not knowing of its satirical backbone, and my head nearly exploded.  I’m glad I stopped the film to get caught up on Slavko Martinov’s faux-doc for it may have rendered me utterly speechless.  My regret after reading the press release was turning the film back on to finish it.

It takes a lunatic to make a “movie” as blunt, sarcastic, and grim as this one.  That madman is Martinov, who shall not be stopped, censored, or smothered in order to make an ironic jab.  Although his involvement with Propaganda was intentionally disguised for a year as many were fooled by the film’s packaging.

Propaganda’s curtness is supposed to add to the film’s premise (a truthful perspective on Western civilization fed to North Koreans), but you can’t help but notice the New Zealand filmmaker’s frustrations towards North American’s consumerism and the numbness felt by Western leaders towards war and the casualties that follow.  It’s a little too aggresive.  If you watch South Park, it’s kind of like watching an episode of the cartoon and realizing how irked Trey Parker and Matt Stone really are towards modern stupidity.

The only difference between an episode of South Park and Martinov’s rambling “documentary” is that the mountain town clan are well-tuned as to how to deliver social commentary and a thesis through creative means.  Martinov’s cynicism is too harsh to find funny or thoughtful.

Watching Propaganda is incredibly and overwhelmingly displeasing.  It’s like being trapped in a school stairwell with those kids who get high and talk about how much of an a-hole George Bush was.  They use the word “man” as punctuation, and many wouldn’t hesitate to call these burnouts “conspiracy theorists” after the umpteenth “inside job” speculation.

The film is supposed to “act” as an educational tape informing those of political inaccuracies and a current battered culture weened on celebrities and advertisements.  To make his points clear, Slavko Martinov holds a mirror up to Western culture of the past decade, and proceeds to embarrass movie goers by hitting low hanging fruit for 90 minutes.

As stated, Propaganda has convinced some that it’s – in fact – real, and that it’s been manufactured by Korean defectors.  The film has convincing editing and a narrator with a poker face, so it’s easy to see why some have been persuaded.  But, if this sneaky filmmaker wanted to make a statement about a shallow, insensitive generation along with contriving propaganda , he needed to demonstrate more than just simply reminding viewers of highlighted horrible events that have happened in history.  He has all the motive and presence of a drunken provocateur who wants nothing more than to stir the pot until the bouncer excuses him.

There were times I wanted to call Martinov on his bluff.  If his “film” has nothing but staggering points to make about manipulative propaganda, what does that say about his “movie”?  He uses extremely graphic B-roll to prove the main ideas.  Wouldn’t that be acting as a tool for manipulation towards this fictitious crowd?  Maybe that’s part of this hugely belaboured, cranky, and callous ruse.

Too much of Propaganda came off as a twerp beating a dead horse for attention.  There will be some whom commend Slavko Martinov on his bravery and claim this film as a treacherous work of art.  Those people will also have a stronger stomach than I had towards the blitz of violent footage making up the bulk of this inappropriate flick.  It makes Faces of Death look like Saturday morning programming that would play on a propaganda box…erm…I mean…a television.

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