A Guide to the Soviet Union

By William M. Mandel | Go to book overview

Chapter Nineteen
THE MOTION PICTURE AND THE THEATER

Appreciating the part movies could play in moulding the minds of the people, Lenin aided the development of Russia's young film industry. With the appearance of Eisenstein "Potemkin" depicting the historic mutiny in the Black Sea Fleet in 1905, the world realized that a new film art had been born. In the words of Richard Watts, Jr., outstanding film critic:

"The value of movement, of dynamic forcefulness, and of hearty, virile vigor was demonstrated too clearly for even Hollywood to miss the point . . . 'Potemkin,' of course, was the pioneer Soviet film, but close after it came such remarkable dramas as 'The End of St. Petersburg,' 'Ten Days That Shook the World,' 'Storm Over Asia,' 'The Old and the New,' 'The New Babylon' and 'China Express' . . . It was not mere technical expertness that made the great Soviet films so expressive. When it comes to the work of the technicians, you still cannot beat Hollywood. It was the intense and eloquent seriousness of Eisenstein and Pudovkin in presenting an earnestly-felt conviction that combined with their professional expertness to make their dramas distinctive. . . .

"Since (the coming of sound) there have been such important pictures from the Soviet studios as 'Chapayev,' 'Peasants,' 'The New Gulliver,"Three Women,' 'Shame,' 'Men and Jobs,' 'The Youth of Maxim,' and 'Suburbs' . . . There is a great gift for laughter and a sense that the world can be happily sane in all of these dramas . . . There is both the laughter of humorous situation and the more distinguished form of humor that bubbles naturally out of human character and proves that man does not have to be reduced to a common mould of personality by a collectivist state . . .

"One brilliant puppet film, 'The New Gulliver' is among the

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