International. This Trotsky could notntolerate. Through the Mexican press,nhe announced that he “no longernshared moral proletarian solidarity withnDiego Rivera and thus could not continuenliving in his house.”nIn April of 1939, after spending twonyears and three months at the Riveras’,nthe Trotskys, their aides, and bodyguardsnmoved out and settled in ViennanStreet, also in Coyoacan.nFor the next year there was noncommunication between the two couples,nalthough they lived less than anmile from each other. Meanwhile, thenG.P.U. grip around Trotsky tightened.nA plot to assassinate him, headed bynthe communist painter David Siqueiros,nwas organized. According to NicholasnMosley, “The conspirators gatherednin a studio-room on Cuba Streetnin the city on the night of 23rd-24thnMay [1940]. They were mostly artists,nex-soldiers, mineworkers, the unemployed.nThere was with them an agentnof the G.P.U. known as Felipe. They .nhad acquired police uniforms; theyndressed up. The second-in-commandnof the raid, a painter called Pujol, worenthe uniform of an army lieutenant:nSiqueiros himself wore the uniform ofna major, with dark glasses and a falsenmoustache. They carried ropes, ropeladders,nrubber gloves, incendiarynbombs, a rotary saw, several revolvers,nand at least two machine guns . . . thenmoustache Siqueiros wore, was a ‘Hitler’nmoustache [and] instead of annofficer’s hat he had a [First World War]n’Kaiser’ helmet.” It was a combinationnof “murderous solemnity and farce.”nTrotsky, however, was not amused.nIn his letter to Mexican President Cardenas,nwritten immediately afterwards,nhe described what had happened. “Angang of twenty assassins attacked mynhouse at night, tied up the guards,nbroke into my study, threw fire bombsninto the house and into the yard,nwounded my grandson, and kidnappednone of my aides.” For some reason, henchose not to mention that he andnNatalia survived only by chance, rollingnout of their bed and hiding behindnit when their bedroom was hastilynmachine-gunned from the doorway.nA few days later, the corpse ofnTrotsky’s kidnapped aide was foundnburied in the basement of the house ofnSiqueiros’s relatives.nSince the quarrel with Rivera wasnwidely known, Diego (who was notninvolved) became a suspect. He escapednarrest thanks only to his mistress,nwho drove him away in her truck underna pile of oil paintings. Shortly thereafter,nhe left Mexico for San Francisco.nAnd thus he wasn’t in the countrynwhen the second, successful attemptnon Trotsky’s life was carried out threenmonths later.nThough the house on Vienna Streetnwas turned practically into a fortress,nwith a steel door and watch towers, andnwas guarded round the clock by thenMexican police and by Trotsky’s bodyguards,nthe assassin had no troublengetting in, since he was a boyfriendn(alas, G.P.U. planted) of Trotsky’s devotednsecretary Sylvia Ageloff.nAfter he hit Trotsky with an ice pick,nwhich went two-and-three-quarterninches into his skull, “Trotsky leaped tonhis feet . . . and came towards him,nsweeping the objects off the table andnhurling them at him — the books, thendictating machine, the ink-well, thenpaper-knife — he grappled with Mercader,ntore the ice-pick from him, gotnhold of his finger and bit it.” Natalianand the guards who rushed into thenroom saw Trotsky bleeding profusely,nbut on his feet, and Mercader, innshock, screaming: “They made me donit! They’ve got my mother!” Trotskyndied the following evening.nAfter his death the Riveras made annamazing transformation. Diego turnedninto a Stalinist. And he begged to benadmitted into the paranoidly StalinistnMexican Communist Party. To getnparty favors, he even claimed that henwas involved in the Trotsky assassination,nwhich was not true.nThe change with Frida was no lessndramatic. She started hating Trotsky.nAnd the more she hated him, the morenpassionate, the more obsessive grewnher love for Stalin. His photograph wasntacked permanently over her bed. Andnlying in this bed, afflicted with syphilisnand a bone disease, barely able to holdna brush, she would devotedly paintnStalin’s portrait.nNow, in the Blue House, there isnnot even a trace of Trotsky. And in thenbedroom where he and Natalia spentnmore than two years, stands the bust ofnCoba.nLeon Steinmetz teaches creativenwriting at Harvard.nFILMnnnDreams, Ideals,nand Jokesnby David R. ShvittnDreamsnProduced by Hisao Kurosawa andnMike Y. InouenWritten and directednby Akira Kurosawa ‘ ‘•nReleased by Warner BrothersnMan Without PigsnProduced and directednby Chris OwennThe Women Who Smile ^nProduced and directednby Joanne Head ‘”nThe plan was terrific — as manynplans are. I’d go up to New Yorknto see selected films of the Museum ofnNatural History’s 14th annual MargaretnMead Film Festival, but I could alsoncatch the new Akira Kurosawa film too.nThis way, I’d have something to bail outnwith, some high ground to flee to afternthe anthropological films — fromnwhich, as you may already have gathered,nI was expecting a rather less loftynlevel of artistry. All those tendentiousndocumentaries about saving the rainnforests and the beastliness of men wouldnbe worth sitting through, I believed,nbecause some of them would be unintentionallynfunny or legitimately interesting,nor even good.nI do, still, feel a small frisson ofnanticipation at the start of a film —nwhich is a bigger deal than the start of anJANUARY 1991/53n