Inside the Film Factory: New Approaches to Russian and Soviet Cinema

Inside the Film Factory: New Approaches to Russian and Soviet Cinema

Inside the Film Factory: New Approaches to Russian and Soviet Cinema

Inside the Film Factory: New Approaches to Russian and Soviet Cinema

Synopsis

A collection of essays that use new methodological approaches and original archival material to study Soviet film. The book includes the first account in English of the careers of Protazanov and Barnet.

Excerpt

Cinema has been the predominant popular art form of the first half of the twentieth century, at least in Europe and North America. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the Soviet Union, where Lenin's remark that 'of all the arts for us cinema is the most important' has become a cliché and where cinema attendances today are still amongst the highest in the world. In the age of mass politics Soviet cinema has developed from a fragile but effective tool to gain support among the overwhelmingly illiterate peasant masses in the Civil War that followed the October 1917 Revolution, through a welter of experimentation into a mass weapon of propaganda through entertainment that shaped the public image of the Soviet Union-both at home and abroad and for both elite and mass audiences-and latterly into an instrument to expose the weaknesses of the past and present in the twin processes of glasnost and perestroika.

Cinema's central position in Soviet cultural history and its unique combination of mass medium, art form and entertainment industry, have made it a continuing battleground for conflicts of broader ideological and artistic significance, not only for the Soviet Union but also for the world outside. The debates that raged in the 1920s about the relative revolutionary merits of documentary as opposed to fiction film, of cinema as opposed to theatre or painting, or of the proper role of cinema in the forging of post-Revolutionary Soviet culture and the shaping of the new Soviet man, have their echoes in current discussions about the role of cinema vis-à-vis other art forms in effecting the cultural and psychological revolution necessitated by the process of the economic and political transformation of the Soviet Union into a modern democratic and industrial society and a state governed by the rule of law. Cinema's central position has also made it a vital instrument for scrutinising the blank pages of Soviet history and enabling the present generation to come to terms with its own past.

This series of books will examine Soviet films in the context of Soviet cinema, and Soviet cinema in the context of the political and cultural history of both the Soviet Union and the world at large. Within that framework the series, drawing its authors from both East and West, will cover a wide variety of topics and employ a broad range of methodological approaches and

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