Lenin lives on in bronze and on screens around the world

A park named after Lenin in Havana. Source: AP

A park named after Lenin in Havana. Source: AP

Ninety years after the death of Bolshevik leader, monuments to Lenin still stand around the world, and artists continue to feature his image in new films and other artwork.

Busts and monuments – from Cuba to Antarctica

When the communist empire collapsed, many countries tried to shove their communist past away as quickly as possible. Although many sculptures of the proletarian leader were destroyed or taken off their bases, an estimated 6,000 Lenin monuments still stand today all over the world.

Cuba, which still embraces the Communist ideology, has an entire park named after Lenin. Created in Havana as a place for open-air recreational activities of the Cuban proletariat, the park features a 30-foot, marble statue of Lenin.

In Russia, one of the less conventional Lenin monuments is located in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk. The construction of the mausoleum-like structure featuring columns, a balcony and a bronze bust to the Bolshevik leader, was funded by donations from local workers. It was inaugurated in 1925, shortly after Lenin’s death.

Lenin monument in Chelyabinsk

Lenin's monument in Chelyabinsk. Source: Vladimir Kozlov

One of the most unlikely places on earth to feature a monument to a communist leader is the isle of Mauritius, where the capital Port Louis still has one that was installed in 1983.

The United States also boasts a few monuments to the communist leader. One is installed on the roof of the 13-story, late 1980s Red Square building in New York City’s East Village.

Created by Russian sculptor Yuri Gerasimov, the statue was never publicly displayed at home because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and was standing in the backyard of a dacha outside Moscow before being spotted by one of the building's developers, Michael Shaoul, in the mid-1990s.

Lenin statue in Seattle. Source: Alamy / Legion Media

A bigger, 16-foot Lenin statue is on the other coast, in the Seattle suburb of Fremont. Created by Slovak/Bulgarian sculptor Emil Venkov, the statue was originally inaugurated in the Slovak city of Poprad in 1988.

It remained on public display for just over a year before being quietly removed from its base after Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. Several years later, an American teacher found the statue lying in a scrap yard in Poprad, and in 1995, it was installed in Fremont.

Meanwhile, a bust of Lenin can even be found in Antarctica, where it was brought by Soviet researchers back in 1958. The plastic bust has survived today, despite temperatures of around -76 degrees Fahrenheit.

On tape and in plastic: movies and collectables

During the Communist era, dozens of features and documentaries centered on Lenin were made in the Soviet Union, ranging from propaganda pieces of little artistic value to Sergei Eisenstein's "October: Ten Days That Shook the World" and Dziga Vertov's "Three Songs About Lenin."


Sergei Eisenstein's film "October: Ten Days That Shook the World". Source : kinopoisk.ru

Filmmakers all over the world have also used Lenin as a character. In Franklin J. Schaffner's "Nicholas and Alexandra," centered on Russia's last tzar, Nicholas II, who was dethroned in 1917. Lenin is played by British actor Michael Bryant.

Following the collapse of Communism, the tone of depicting the Bolshevik leader changed, and he has often been portrayed in a less than reverent way. The 1997 movie "Minu Leninid" ("All My Lenins"), directed by Hardi Volmer, is a comedy focused on a fictional school training Lenin's doubles.

But perhaps the best-known movie of recent years, which has Lenin's name in the title, is 2003's "Goodbye Lenin" by German director Wolfgang Becker, starring a Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova. Set in the months after the 1990 reunification of Germany, the film features Lenin but only as a statue being carried away as a relic of the communist past.

In a similar act of re-thinking the Communist past, Norilsk-based artist Oleg Osmuk made comic-like paintings featuring Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders. In one of the pictures, Lenin is seen smashing Batman.

Back in the late 1980s, the Perestroika reforms in the Soviet Union made items with Communist symbols fashionable in the West. Collectors were eager to buy Lenin busts and sculptures, which were smuggled rather than officially exported from Russia.

Today, interest in Lenin-related collectables is at a low point. Still, some items related to the Bolshevik leader pop up at online antique stores from time to time. An American company focused on "odd and unique antiques" is offering a 16-foot statue of Lenin, which used to stand near the now-defunct “Red Square” restaurant at the Atlantic City Tropicana Casino.

The erection of the statue back in 2005 stirred some controversy, and the restaurant owners had to remove the head of the statue and cover it with something resembling pigeon excrements to avoid undesirable historic associations.

Judging by photographs from the seller, the statue is in good shape now, and the price tag is $40,000.

Meanwhile, those interested in something cheaper could buy a porcelain bust of Lenin, offered by another online antiques store at $129.

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