The Soviet Film Industry

By Paul Babitsky; John Rimberg | Go to book overview

III. Scenarios and Writers

1.

Soviet scenarios, regarded in the U.S.S.R. primarily as political documents, must be considered against the background of their time, for the current Party line has always been the main determinant of form and themes. Throughout the Soviet period only a few nonpolitical films have been released, during the years of the New Economic Policy and the Second World War.

After the Revolution Anatoli V. Lunacharski, People's Commissar of Education, was in charge of the film industry. The function of the cinema, he maintained, was to educate workers in the spirit of communism, and for this purpose he envisioned a grandiose project of producing various series of historical films on such themes as the development of the bourgeois state, the history of religions, the revolutionary movement in all countries in all ages, and scientific discoveries and inventions.

Lunacharski realized that the accomplishment of even a small part of this scheme would take decades. Nevertheless he soon had the project under way. Writers and scholars were invited to work out a detailed program. Two open contests were announced for scenarios. A Literary and Artistic Department of the People's Commissariat of Education was organized. Among the writers who participated in the work were Valeri Bryusov, Aleksandr Blok, Aleksei Tolstoi, Aleksandr Serafimovich, and Maxim Gorki. Lesser non-Party writers were drawn to the project as a means of staving off hunger and the police. Changes in Communist policy and in the tastes of the People's Commissariat, however, brought the experiment to an end.

During his many years as Commissar, Lunacharski himself produced a sizable number of scenarios and dramas as well

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