The Russian Revolution, Starring…

Sacha Baron Cohen as Stalin, Stephen Dorff as Lenin and Seth Rogen as Kalinin.

8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Detail)

It’s doubtful that Intelligence has derived more enjoyment from any other paste-up in recent memory — at least since Sgt. Pepper’s. Speaking of which…

Take note of Mikhail Lashevich (Gaskovich) awkwardly pasted atop a bookcase on the far right. He is the distorted mirror image of Shirley Temple (below), perched atop a cloth grandmother figurine, which is, as it happens, also an inanimate object, which suggests both personages were created assets, propped up by artifice. Interestingly, Shirley Temple (a descendant of the Dunhams and possibly Richmond Fells via that cloth grandmother figurine, Cynthia Fell Temple) was born a few short months before Lashevich faked his death after sowing general discord and fomenting a sloppy revolt by the Mongols against the Manchurian Government. The year was 1928. Lashevich likely took his Gaskovich name back and emigrated to the States for his next assignment, as he was only 44 and had proven able to pull off midlevel hoaxes and pranks at home and in foreign lands.

It is improbable that this is a depiction of an actual event, for then, as now, the 8th Congress merely needed to live in the imagination of the public. This particular iteration of the 8th Congress portrait was released c. 2006; it probably undergoes regular updates to ensure that the Congress weasels its way into the imaginations of successive generations. Intelligence, however, has outdone itself this time by utilizing the visages of the above-mentioned actors, who do not remotely resemble the original thespians of the Revolution.

In fact, it looks like all of the Congresses were faked. Take the 5th (July 1918), for instance. Here is an alleged photograph:

This is a bad paste-up. Check out the lower left of the photograph where portions of two pasted-in participants are drawn in atop the rug on which Smilga and others’ feet rest. Also, no one in the picture can agree on the location of the photographer, because each pasted-in individual was photographed independently, elsewhere and under wildly different lighting and circumstances. You aren’t supposed to notice, but they used the exact same photograph of Lashevich in the 8th Congress that they used in the 5th. In the photo of the 5th (2nd row, 3rd fellow from right), he’s been made slightly darker and a hat has been pasted on his head. This doesn’t pose a continuity problem because these aren’t real historic photographs. They are fakes made much more recently in order to flesh out our synthetic historical narrative.

For comparison, here’s a random class picture taken in 1918.

These lads all know where the camera is and they are all lit uniformly by a window, flash bulb or combination of the two from the right. More importantly, none of the guys are listing oddly to the left or right, as though getting photographed on a ship that’s about to capsize. Now you know how to tell the difference between a paste-up and a real photograph.

Finally, lest you forget, this is 1918, 80 years after Louis Daguerre shared his process with the public. Autochrome had already been broadly used for nearly a decade. In other words, the worst mass production cameras were taking better pictures than those we are asked to believe produced the Congress photos, the quality of which is on par with those produced by Niépce 100 years earlier.

The 8th Congress Portrait that has been broadly disseminated over the last decade is hosted by Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Delegates_of_the_8th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Communist_Party_(Bolsheviks).jpg

And here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/5/54/20060428145150%21Stalin-Lenin-Kalinin-1919.jpg

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