Among scholars in the field of cinema who do not study the Soviet film specifically, a myth seems to persist. Many still believe that the Soviet government's 1919 decree nationalizing the cinema industry automatically meant that the Government undertook to subsidize film production fully. Lunacharsky's universally quoted attribution to Lenin of the comment that the cinema was, for the Soviets, the most important of the arts has come to imply that the State put a high priority on supplying the industry's needs. In this view, the slow recovery of the industry after the Revolution, and even the existence of the montage movement, become attributable primarily to the lack of raw stock and equipment caused by the flight of pre-revolutionary producers and to the hardships of the Civil War period.
A number of historians who have concentrated on economic aspects of the Soviet silent era have shown that the Government gave direct subsidies to the film industry only on a limited and inadequate basis; that from 1921 on the industry was expected to put itself on a self-sufficient footing; and that initially the means by which it was expected to do so was by importing and distributing foreign films. 1
Revenues from the showing of imported films were crucial to the industry's recovery. Similarly, all new raw stock and equipment, beyond the small supplies available after the Revolution, had to be brought in from capitalist countries. After 1924,