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

By Anna Lawton | Go to book overview
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With Perestroika, without Tarkovsky


It is clearly impossible to list the entire range of sensations that a Soviet cinema critic faces when asked to give a brief account of the state of Soviet cinematography today. And still, to put it in a nutshell, the situation is now approximately the same as it was at the crest of the 1920s. At that time the unexpectedly emerging sound film had swept the efforts of many silent filmmakers-who had commanded the medium just a few years before-into history.

The impression is that "sound" has suddenly been turned on in our time, too. Everything has acquired a voice-our history with a mass of blank spots, some of which it would be more accurate to call red spots, our economy of long queues and dying villages, and our unstable practical position in the world-everything started suddenly becoming visible as in Antonioni's Blow-Up, and it should be said that the resulting picture looks forbidding and aweinspiring, so much so that one feels like looking aside. But nevertheless there is a need to look and see. This need is felt by filmmakers more than by anyone else. First of all this need inspired documentary filmmakers, who became intoxicated with the plentiful new opportunities after 1985 and plunged into the battle of perestroika with unbelievable ardor. This ardor can be explained not only by the principle of immediate response inherent in documentary cinematography but also by the fact that our life has grown full of social problems those in the West cannot even imagine.

The Soviet tradition of documentary cinematography, in contradistinction to the Western one, is inseparably linked with sermonizing and denouncing. Thus, in contrast, now is the time


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