The symbolism of the 1956 Revolution in the music video for Kasabian’s “Club Foot”

East-Central Europe has three symbolic dates when it comes to freedom: 1956 for Hungary, 1968 for Czechoslovakia and 1989 for the system changes to democracy as well as the Romanian Revolution. Among the events of 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing on June 4th is also important, not only because it produced the famous photograph of the man who stood in front of a column of advancing tanks.

The music video for the song “Club Foot” by the English indie rock band Kasabian contains several symbols from the 1956 Revolution. These include a sign for Radio Free Europe (in Hungarian), fighting on the streets, a tank, buildings with bullet holes and a member of the secret police under arrest (revolutionary groups frequently detained secret police members for their own protection). In the scene where they are recording the radio broadcast, the camera lingers over a picture of Jan Palach. Palach was a university student from Prague who set himself on fire January 16, 1969, in protest of the Soviet invasion assisted by troops from the “friendly socialist neighbors” that ended the Prague Spring. Additionally, the scene with the inspector girl who stands before the tank harks back to the young man who stood in front of the line of tanks in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, which itself has become an icon for resistance. In the middle of the video we can also see a picture of Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romania’s feared dictator who was overthrown and executed during the Romanian Revolution.

Through these images and symbols the song ties together Eastern Europe’s movements for freedom in the 20th century: 1956-1968-1989.

During the Hungarian Revolution, Radio Free Europe embodied the West. Officially, people could only listen to state-produced propaganda on their radios, meaning that up until the time of the revolution, the only way to find out what was happening in the free, western world was to listen to Radio Free Europe in secret.

The tricolor flag with a hole in the middle is one of the symbols of 1956 that doesn’t appear in the video. As a bit of background, in the 1950s a new Hungarian coat of arms was created that looked very communist and was placed in the middle of the flag, which then became the official flag. On the first day of the revolution on October 23rd, the people on the streets tore this symbol from their flags, which is how this flag came to symbolize the revolution.

The crying ticket inspector girl can be understood to represent the women figures who mourned the victims of the revolution. In her hand she holds a magazine titled “Luxus”, which is interesting because luxury was an unreachable dream in the 1950s, when a shortage of basic goods was considered the norm. Near the end as she faces off with the tank, the ticket inspector girl even steps onto copies of this magazine. The video closes with the girl lying on the ground with graffiti on the wall behind her stating in Hungarian “Forradalmár vagy” (you are a revolutionary).

Kasabian filmed the video in Hungary, and the song was the second single from their debut self-titled album, which also had rebellious symbolism on its cover. The symbols of the Hungarian Revolution are still as striking today as they were at the time.


One take control of me you’re messing with the enemy said it’s

Two it’s another trick you’re messing with my mind I wake up

Chased down an empty street blinded smacked the broken beat

Said it’s gone with the dirty trick its taking all these days to find you

I tell you I want you

I tell you I need you

Thrills take control of me stalking cross the gallery

All the pills got to operate the coloured grids and all invaders

There it goes again take me to the edge again all I got is a dirty trick

I’m chasing down the wolves to save you

I tell you I want you

I tell you I need you

I the blood on my face

I just wanted you near me

Eszter Zsófia Tóth