For those of you who are Beatles enthusiast, Leslie Woodhead’s documentary “How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin,” which aired on PBS earlier this week, is “must see TV.”
The thesis, which some may find as controversial, implies that the Beatles did more to bring down the Iron Curtain than economic depravity, Gorbachev, or Reagan. Woodhead reports that the Beatles music represented a freedom of thought that penetrated the Soviet’s repressive regime and took over the minds and souls of the country’s youth.
After watching the documentary, I would find it hard to doubt the theory. Even though I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, I had no idea that the regime was so repressive that they would arrest you for having Beatles records, or for trying to bring the Beatles music into the country. The young people of Russia were so smitten with the Beatles music that they would risk arrest by buying what they called “ribs” on the black market. A “rib” was kind of floppy disc that could be folded around your arm and placed under your sleeve. Black marketers would creep around in the shadows of alleys and sell the Beatles disc like they were selling drugs. The Soviets actually had agents stalking the streets for the specific purpose of arresting people buying and selling the music.
This new “freedom of expression” was an avalanche the Soviets could not stop. They had successfully arrested the intellects, writers, poets, and other creative artists, but this was one fire that they could not put out.
The theory suggests that this new found freedom of thought sparked the beginning of the end for the Soviet system. Even if you don’t agree, you must admit a strong argument is made to back it up.
Watch this and enjoy it.