During the 1970s and early 1980s, the Russian nationalist tendency made its presence increasingly felt in Soviet society. In two recent books, The Faces of Contemporary Russian Nationalism (1983) and The New Russian Nationalism (1985), 1 I showed that Russian nationalism can be seen primarily as a desire to preserve: to preserve ethnic Russians themselves from sociodemographic attrition (the result of such perceived plagues as the breakup of the family, plummeting birth rates, and juvenile delinquency); to preserve Russian historical monuments, especially ancient churches, from the wrecker's ball and bulldozer; to preserve the endangered Russian environment from defilement and pollution; to preserve the national religion, Russian Orthodoxy, from extinction. It also seeks to preserve the nineteenth-century Russian classics (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, etc.) from neglect, and it manifests a strong suspicion of modernization, urbanization and the so-called "scientific and technical revolution".
These fervent concerns inevitably pit Russian nationalists against the legitimizing ideology of the Soviet regime, Marxism-Leninism. To be sure, since the time of Stalin the regime has attempted to co-opt the nationalist tendency to its own purposes, but it has not ultimately been successful in this regard. 2 In many ways, Russian nationalism remains refractory and "indigestible".
Like other media of cultural expression, Soviet film has tended to mirror this powerful current of thought and sentiment. During the 1970s and 1980s one finds a number of Soviet films giving expression to the concerns, fears and hopes of the nationalists. Owing to the presence of the Soviet censorship, this expression has at times had to be quasi-Aesopian in nature. This has