By Richard E. Noble
Reds is a combination documentary and romance film.
John Reed is a famous/infamous American, radical, historical figure. He was an aspiring journalist, writer and poet during one of the most explosive, revolutionary periods in American history.
He was an avid Communist and active in the U.S. for many years. He was in my hometown of Lawrence, MA in 1912 along with Big Bill Haywood and the IWW for the well documented Bread and Roses Strike.
He was in Paterson, New Jersey, for the silk strike in 1913 and was a major influence in “The Pageant of the Paterson Strike,” a radical union play put on to help raise money for the strikers and their families and promote worldwide attention to the cause of labor struggles throughout the world.
He wrote about the Ludlow Massacre and other American Labor conflicts.
He is most famous as an American journalist and writer for his book “Ten Days That Shook the World.” He travelled to Russia after the Russian Army had walked off the battlefields of Europe in 1917 during the First World War. The entire Russian Army quit the “Capitalist” conflict and went home to take care of business. They would kill Czar Nicolas II, topple the centuries old regime and attempt by way of armed and violent revolution to establish a new democratic government. And John Reed was there to record the event.
He was a Harvard graduate.
The study of the Union Movement here in the U.S. and consequently the American Communist and Socialist parties, has been purposely neglected and even hidden from the American people.
Yet the battle over workers’ rights, social justice and human equality brought this nation to the brink of a second Civil War.
The battle rages on today in our present political system. Hatred for the American worker and his right to earn a living wage is still prevalent in our political system and throughout the populace.
The film story centers on the love story between John Reed and Louise Bryant. I was not aware of the extent of this gripping romance until seeing this movie. It was quite an outstanding love affair and Beatty does a fantastic job in documenting and recording it. It is definitely on the Doctor Zhivago level in story and film making.
I bought the film because of its documentary significance and my interest in the American Labor Movement.
There are interviews with famous radicals, writers, American Communist and Socialists.
Despite all the negative propaganda the American Communists and Socialists and their political parties and organizations did more to promote fair pay, the elimination and exploitation of child labor, good working conditions, sexual equality and free speech here at home than all other groups, parties, armies and social movement combined.
I feel that from an historical point of view knowing more about this time period and these famous radicals is crucial to a proper understanding of American history.
Our present overall understanding of this time and these people and their movements is convoluted and distorted to say the least.
This movie, besides its obvious Russian historical value, is American History.
Watch what happened then and get a better understanding of what is happening around you here in America today.