Russia TV’s new ‘Trotsky’ mini-series teaches viewers why revolution is bad

Leon Trotsky — the Marxist revolutionary and anti-Stalinist who had a knack for being exiled to Siberia — has been reimagined as a “rock n’ roll hero,” according to Dawn, in a new, eight-part mini-series that is set to begin airing on Russia’s state-controlled Channel One in early November. Titled simply “Trotsky,” the series pays particular interest to Trotsky’s more adventurous exploits — including his busy sex life — and was timed to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution:

“This is the first [television] drama dedicated to Trotsky in the history of Russia,” Konstantin Ernst, Channel One’s general director, told potential buyers including Netflix at the Mipcom international entertainment market in the French resort of Cannes. “Unlike Lenin, Trotsky looked like a rock ‘n’ roll hero — breaking out of jail, revolution, love, exile and murder.”

In an odd sales tactic, Ernst joked that Trotsky — who counted Frida Kahlo among his many sexual conquests — was sort of like the Bolshevik version of Harvey Weinstein, describing the noted orator as “energetic, creative and sexually active — as you know this [last trait] is not so popular in the film industry these last two weeks.”

(No word on whether anyone chuckled at that.)

Konstantin Khabensky, who appeared in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and is a major star in Russia, plays the title role, so he gets to shout things like, “Revolution is like a woman. Be men! Fertilize her!” (As you can see from the trailer below, it all looks a little over the top, though the production design is impressive.)

While the show presents Trotsky as a ruthless leader, producer Alexander Tsekalo admitted to the AFP that, “It’s hard to be objective a hundred years later, but we tried to produce a series based on real events. Trotsky played an important and bloody role in the Russian revolution.”

Though it’s brashly stylized, Tsekalo says that there is a message, and that is that “people should not be forced to take to the streets and revolution always means blood.” Which seems like a smart move considering that Vladimir Putin, who has been in power for nearly 20 years, doesn’t seem to take kindly to pro-revolution talk.

“The state is not participating in marking the centenary, it is only watching,” Russian historian Nikita Petrov said of the series. “The Kremlin’s message is that all revolutions are bad — and especially those financed from abroad.”

Also: They can end up with you be violently murdered with an ice pick.

[h/t: @olacicho | screen shot: mipmarkets]