Church as the handmaiden of state (“Comrade Drakulich”, Hungary , 2019)
In theory under the Hungarian variety of communist regimes everything was relegated to serve the purpose of the lofty idea(l)s of the state. Thus the leaders of the system had to make a choice what to do with the churches, which were the institutionalized manifestation of religion, which, as all Marxist know, is the “opium of the masses”. They did with it what they did with everything else they considered the enemy: used force to scatter religious orders, took away most of their properties, banned what they wanted and amplified “anti-clerical” propaganda. However they did something just as tedious: created the “State Church Office” office (“Állami Egyházügyi Hivatal“) to oversee, control and direct the churches. This was one of the methods (the other planting lots of informants in the clergy and lay leadership) to turn the “church the handmaiden of the state”. This intention turns Thomas Aquinas’s notion of “philosophy is the handmaiden of theology” upside down.
Why am I bringing this whole State Church Office business ? At one point int he movie the protagonist was threatened that if he would not cooperate this office would deal with him. So the office was the tool being used to fully subjugate the official church to secondary role behind the state. Talking of a perverse non-separation of state and church…
This was the theory but the reality was that a lot of the leaders were more prone to serve themselves than the people they preached to serve. Another way the anti-religious crusade was unsuccessful: truly religious people couldn’t be persuaded to swap what/who believe in from God to communism.) Case in point for the former: the whole mission in “Comrade Drakulich” revolved around making the ultimate leader, Brezhnev , immortal by turning him into a vampire. The film positioned itself as a combination of satire of the 1950’s style communism and a typical vampire movie. I enjoyed some of the gags in both directions, but it was not too original in either regards. For example it didn’t add anything innovative to the vampire genre. Going back to the topic of this blog (“film and religion”): it used the cross and holy water as nothing more than props protecting against vampire, no further reference to religion.
IMDB summary: Vampires are among us. But no need to worry: the Hungarian Secret Police are after them, and beyond the usual spy gadgets, they even use garlic to repel the beasts. Hungary in the 70s. Comrade Fábián (Zsolt Nagy), the Hungarian hero of the Cuban revolution, comes home to take part in a blood drive for Vietnam, the communist sister nation of Hungary. But something is wrong with the old comrade: he looks like a 30-year-old, has a cool demeanor, and drives a fire-red Mustang. A young couple who work for the secret police are assigned to monitor the stranger. Maria (Lili Walters) escorts him, and tries to find out the secret to his eternal youth. Maria’s lover, Laci (Ervin Nagy), the master of surveillance and close combat, stalks the two, and when he’s not mad from jealousy, does something which is not part of his skill set: he thinks. What is the secret of the ageless comrade, who drinks a red fizzy drink, and gazes longingly at ladies’ gently curved necks? Comrades and spies start to believe that Bela Lugosi, the star of the old Dracula movie, is not the only Hungarian vampire.