The Red Screen: Politics, Society, Art in Soviet Cinema

By Anna Lawton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

The War and Kozin tsev's Films Hamlet and King Lear

JOSEPH TRONCALE

In the Soviet Union today [the time of writing is 1986], the Great Patriotic War defines the self-image of the people and of the nation as a whole. The shining legacy of the Revolution has grown dull with cynicism and apathy, and has yielded to the power of the myth of the Second World War. The Soviet concepts of country and of patriotism are inextricably bound to their experiences of that war, its attendant atrocities, and the toll it took in their land. Emerging from such trauma, the Soviet Union has, in its own eyes, assumed the mantle of leadership in the quest for a peaceful nuclear-free world. The war has left indelible scars on the Soviet psyche. The trials of the nation during the war form a constituent element of the spiritual prism through which the Soviets view the world. It is an inseparable part of the Soviet world-view, no matter what the undertaking. After the war, the world will never seem the same to the Soviets again, nor they to the world.

There is a continuous and massive official effort to keep the memory of the Great Patriotic War alive. It is the duty of every Soviet to honor and perpetuate its memory and the memory of its cost in their lives. Writers and filmmakers, more than anyone else, as members of the official organs of education and propaganda, must respond correctly to this duty in the name of all the people.

At the 1985 Moscow Film Festival, just after the fortieth anniversary of the victory over Germany, top honors went to Elem Klimov's Come and See, a graphic depiction of the Nazi atrocities in Belorussia. This orchestrated gesture reconfirmed the pre-dominant significance of the genre of the war film in Soviet cinema. Its purpose today, however, is not only to continue to remind the Soviet people of the crimes of Hitler's regime and of

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