Sigmund Freud puts the arm on the shoulder of Leon Trotski. The Russian revolutionary just left him in evidence during one of his famous conferences in the Vienna of the early twentieth century. Now, both away from the public's view, is the father of psychoanalysis who criticizes him. "During our confrontation I noticed that his pupils were dilated. I've only seen that reaction in two types of men: serial killers or religious fanatics, "he snaps.
This conversation never took place, but millions of people have seen it. It is one of the scenes of Trotsky, the series distributed by Netflix but produced by the main Russian state channel, controlled by the Kremlin. And that's how he reflects his protagonist: like a sadist, a complete traitor, like a puppet. Trotsky, outlawed revolutionary, chief of the Red Army, demonized later as "enemy of the people" and killed by a Soviet agent in 1940 in MexicoHe is the bad guy in his own movie. It appears under a prism so negative that it has united historians, experts and the revolutionary's family in accusing the authors of the overproduction not only of falsifying history, but also of use the figure of the Bolshevik to send a message: that dissidence and revolutions are bad.
"It is an example of how not to treat history, in particular that of the Russian revolutionary movement," explains Alexander Reznik, a professor at the Russian National School of Economics, who has thoroughly researched Trotsky's life. "[La serie] is false, constantly misrepresents known facts to build an 'ideal type of revolutionary' [palabras de uno de los productores]: a cliché and simplistic image of a power hungry fanatic, blind to the sufferings of his family. "
The production, of eight chapters, premiered in Russia in 2017, coinciding with the centenary of the Revolution. Then he made the world leap with Netflix, where more than 139 million subscribers can see it. One of them was Esteban Volkov Bronstein, grandson of Trotsky and guardian of his memory. "The character they have made is a historical falsification. It is light years away from the revolutionary Marxist I met. A man of an extreme intelligence, very cordial, tireless worker, prone to educate young people and that generated a warm environment around him, "explains EL PAÍS from the garden of the house in Mexico City where his grandfather was murdered (and which is now a museum).
Those responsible, from the director down, hide behind that it is not a historical series, only based on real events. "We can not know everything that happened at that time, but we spent many hours with consultants. And based on this knowledge and inspired by various stories and events, the authors wove a solid story that keeps the viewer, "says Alexandra Remizova, one of the responsible of Sreda, the producer.
The heirs of Trotsky have organized a campaign of repudiation, supported by dozens of intellectuals and public figures such as Slavoj Zizek, Frederic Jameson or the philosopher Isabelle Garo. Earlier, the family of the Bolshevik, exiled wandering before collecting in Mexico, had refused after reading the script to shoot scenes in the house museum as intended by the producer. Among the many falsehoods found in that booklet: that Ramón Mercader -Their murderer- was a lover of Frida Kahlo, she pretended to be her biographer and that the murder was in self-defense (she was especially angry at Volkov Bronstein).
"It is also a crime against Mexico, which investigated and pronounced sentence on the crime," says Volkov. "Mercader gradually gained the trust of people close to the family. He only visited my grandfather's office twice and killed him treacherously. The version of the series is very similar to the one spread for years by Stalinism, which claimed that it had been a quarrel with a disappointed supporter. " But unlike other Stalinist propaganda messages, this series – sex, violence and special effects – cost around four million dollars, took four months to shoot and had a large cast of Russian celebrities, such as Konstantin Khabenski. It was broadcasted during prime time on the main state channel. And it has garnered important national awards.
There are also harsh reproaches of those who see behind the series one more initiative of the propaganda of the Russian Government. Another way to kill Trotsky, this time not with an ice ax, as Mercader did, but with the revision of his memory. "The Kremlin's message is that all revolutions are bad, and especially those financed from abroad," says the human rights organization Memorial. And it is that another thesis that slides the polemic script is the supposed financial support of German intelligence to the Bolsheviks. "Trotsky is still one of the most demonized figures in Russian history, so it's safer to make a film about him than about Lenin or Stalin," says Reznik.
Trotsky played a determining role in the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. But the name and history of this brilliant Marxist orator and theoretician, who had to go into exile in 1929 for his clashes with Stalin, was taboo throughout the Soviet era, as it became idol of the radical western left. It was rehabilitated only after the fall of the USSR. The Leon Trotsky of the series is a man obsessed with power, of Machiavellian cunning, willing to kill a loyal military for jealousy, to end the lives of peasants or non-regular soldiers who were opposed to its guidelines. Even to use his own son as a human shield. "Lives are bricks in the building of the revolution, in the unstoppable course of history," he says in another of the scenes in the series (which has also been branded as anti-Semitic: Trotsky was Jewish).
The revolutionary outlaw, the head of the Red Army, also had an exceptional life. And the creators of the series exploit "exotic" motifs like their romance with the painter Frida Kahlo, Reznik points out. "He's a true rock and roll star. Throughout his life, not only during the October Revolution, "commented Konstantin Ernst during the Russian premiere, director of Channel 1, one of the most watched in the country, and a man very close to the Kremlin. "When you look at the glasses, the specially designed leather clappers and the armored train that has been used in production … It's almost a cyberpunk story. We think it's a character that can be understandable to the younger audience, "Ernst said. And that is the hook they have used.
The heirs of Trotsky have no plans to initiate a lawsuit against the producer or scriptwriters of the series. In fact, they take this new controversy as an opportunity for their true history to be known. During the last month the number of visitors to the museum house has increased.