Throughout its history, political changes in Russia have played an important role in the country's movie industry--more so perhaps than in any other country. It would of course be a gross oversimplification to see the history of Russian cinema (actually Soviet movies) as being the product of the only culture in which the political agenda has shaped the nature of the cultural output. In observing American movies, one can readily see the political taboos and stereotypes within them. Indeed, one can hardly find an American movie where the negative character of a member of a minority group or female is not counterbalanced by a female heroine or a hero of minority origin. Yet despite the public pressure that defines the way this or that subject may be treated, Western movies have never been totally controlled, and for this reason they can be approached from various angles. For instance, the political angle would just be one of many approaches, and one could claim with ample justification that it would not be the most important.
In the case of Soviet movies, however, a film's content was implicitly connected to the regime. The content could be either a direct response to the demands of the regime and its ideology or the response of the creators of the movie to ideological pressure. Consequently, the history of Soviet cinema can be divided according to the major ideological shifts in the Soviet regime. Each of these stages had a major problem and/or a major hero on which the movies focused. It would of course be an impossible task even to mention the names of the most important movies created during the seventy years of the Soviet regime's existence. For this reason, I have been extremely selective in my choice of movies as well as the intellectual and political stages in the development of the Soviet system. For each of these periods, the images of