Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
This official Soviet film dramatizes the formation of the Red Army and the historical figure Leon Trotsky is shown briefly, even though he remains unnamed. This is significant, because from the 1920s until the 1980s, public mention or depiction of Trotsky was not allowed. Trotsky was the founder of the Red Army and led it for the first six years of its existence, only later falling out of favor. The history of the Red Army is this: practically the whole Russian military ceased to function following the collapse of Russian participation in World War I. When the wartime compromise government fell, various political factions in Russia strove for supremacy, including the Bolsheviks. The military was deeply divided. Those soldiers and sailors who were sympathetic to the radical cause (which included the Bolsheviks) were persuaded to join together to oppose the "White" Russian forces. These, at least in part, consisted of people sympathetic to the Tsar and the previous autocratic regime. The film shows the newly organized Red Army swearing an oath with Lenin and fighting Cossack General Koltchak. The Red forces suffered grievous losses. However, because of their timely and skillful use by Lenin and Trotsky, and the extreme chaos of the times, they were quickly able to consolidate most of Russian society under the Bolshevik banner. This is a lavishly produced propaganda film, and its highlights include superb crowd and battle scenes.