We read about mob activities in books and magazines and see their actions in our imaginations. Many films have now been made, depicting mobs and their actions on screen.
These include farmers’ revolts, labor riots and political workers’ rallies and sloganeering. When the audience sees them on screen, they find the crowd active in their true form. They are also aware of their facial expressions and their inner emotions. It is the genius of the film’s director and actors that they portray the character of the crowd perfectly. For this reason, one can understand the inner feelings of mobs by watching them in films rather than reading their history.
Crowds are of two types. One who greets his rulers on an occasion of joy and victory. The second mob is the one who loots in a fit of rage. Attacks the mansions of landlords and nobles. Vandalism and arson cause destruction. In both these cases, when the crowd comes together, it emerges as a force. Here we will mention the famous Hollywood movie “Kaluptra”.
It was customary in the Roman Empire that when a victorious general returned with booty, he would ask the saint for permission to march in triumph. When Julius Caesar returned after conquering Egypt and marrying Cleopatra, he made a magnificent procession. The glory of this procession has been told in the film. Qaluptra was the center of attention of people because of her beauty riding on a chariot.
Thousands of people on both sides of the road were enjoying the scene and boasting of its power as part of the Roman Empire. Later, Julius Caesar’s successor, Octavian, also wanted to include the Colopatra as a trophy in his procession after his conquest of Egypt, but when he committed suicide, he made a statue of it and included it in his procession.
Hollywood has made many films about the society of the Roman Empire. In these films, the crowd of people has been shown in different forms. The population of the people increased because the nobles began to cultivate their fields with slaves, and the peasants became unemployed and came to the city of Rome. This crowd of unemployed people used to loot.
They were also guilty of crimes, so the Roman government thought of many ways to control the crowd. One was that every citizen received ration from the government. If there was ever a delay in getting the ration, the crowd would riot. Another way to keep people busy was to find sources of entertainment for them. For this purpose, the Colosseum used to have combat competitions.
Whichever warrior was defeated, the watching crowd would decide whether he should be killed or kept alive. It was here that criminals and Christians were placed in front of the lions, who were torn to pieces and eaten. The crowd was happy to see this bloodshed.
There were also chariot races as shown in the movie Binhur. Apart from this, at the time of election, various candidates used the crowd for their own interests. Intimidation of the opposing candidate and breaking of ballot boxes were among the acts. We see these mob actions even today.
In the present age, one sees the crowd mobilized in revolutions. Among other films, documentaries or television news, look at the crowd and its activities. For example, the famous film director Sergei Eisenstein made Battleship Potemkin on the Russian Revolution of 1917. At the beginning of the film, ocean waves are shown crashing against the rocks.
That is, the crowd of people is competing with power. The ship’s sailors revolt, which is attempted to be crushed by force, but the mob eventually succeeds. In this film, the Russian revolution and the people’s struggle are told. Many other films have been made on the Russian Revolution, but one film (October: Ten Days that shook the world) is worth mentioning.
Documentary films have also shown mob action. For example, when there were pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in China, a large number of young people gathered there. TV channels around the world filmed the crowd, but in the end, the Chinese government crushed the crowd with tanks and troops.
After the fall of Russia, communist governments in Eastern Europe were also overthrown by mass protests and authoritarian regimes were overthrown and democracy was imposed. The recent Arab Spring protests were certainly a shake-up in Middle Eastern politics. Hosni Mubarak was forced to leave due to mass protests in Egypt, but then the army seized power and ended the public protests and freed Hosni Mubarak from prison.
When mobs are depicted in cinema and documentaries, viewers are influenced by them. On the one hand, they realize the power of the crowd and on the other, they see the actions of the state’s army and police, which break the power of the protesters by dispersing them ruthlessly and harshly.
Now it is up to the film directors and documentary makers to sympathize with the crowd or treat the crowd as a disruptive mob. When a crowd gathers around an ideology and struggles against authoritarian regimes, it changes history. Even if he fails, he leaves a legacy of stories of his struggle, which inspire those who come to not be silent and to gain their rights through resistance.
Note: Opinions expressed in any DW Urdu blog, comment or column are the personal opinions of the author, with which DW does not necessarily agree.
National Voice is now also available on Telegram. Click here to join our channel @qaumiawaz and stay updated with latest news.