Circus opens with a harrowing chase scene in an American town, where popular circus performer Marion Dixon is literally being run out of town by a bloodthirsty lynch mob. Why? Well, to find that out, you'll have to watch the film. In any event, she barely escapes with her life, jumping onto a moving train and collapsing into the arms of a visiting German on his way back to Europe. Forced to flee an intolerant United States, the woman ultimately finds political asylum in Moscow, where she's able to resume working as The Human Bullet in a circus. But Marion has not come to Moscow alone. With her is the German she met on the train, who now manages her vaudeville act. As is to be expected from a Soviet movie of 1936, he looks a bit like Hitler and his mind is filled with notions of white supremacy. He's also possessively in love with Marion and when she rejects him in favor of Ivan, the jilted German decides to ruin her career by revealing the secret reason for her flight from the USA to the circus audience.
For anyone who needs to ask himself where he/she falls on social and political issues, this film will make it very easy to provide the answer to the truly introspective. It is impossible to be "neutral" after watching this film: liberal reviewers see everything positive in its portrayal of American intolerance and German bigotry and embrace the myth of the perfect Soviet society, where everyone had free education, free healthcare, a job for life and where everyone was equal (except for the very few politicians and mafioso in their ever-present track suits, who were just a tad more equal than everyone else). That millions died to overthrow such a "perfect" system is either completely lost on fans of that kind of society or excused away with phrases of how the USSR had the right idea, but went astray. Gulags and day-long lines to buy stale bread and ersatz sausage --- when available --- are simply products of rabid, Republican, anti-Communist propaganda (who so hate the poor they oppress). To those whose social ideals fall to the right, the constant, inevitable snorts of derision from conservative viewers at idealistic depictions of tolerance, love for all and the home of democratic, socialist ideals will drown out the soundtrack. Nevertheless, propaganda aside, Circus is entertaining in a rather simplistic way with an uncompromising one-sided view of "Us vs. Them". One of the film's best known songs became extremely popular --- you can hear it in the film sample --- and was even played in orphanages and the gulags, where the lyrics, "my country, where one can breathe the most free" no doubt brought about feelings of irony to at least a few of the camps' forced laborers.
DVD-R is in Russian with switchable English subtitles. Approx. 88 mins. See film sample for quality!