Early Soviet Cinema- Innovation, Ideology and Propaganda (Short Cuts)
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Early Soviet Cinema: Innovation, Ideology and Propaganda examines the aesthetics of Soviet cinema during its "golden age" of the 1920s, against a background of cultural ferment and the construction of a new socialist society. Separate chapters are devoted to the work of Sergei Eisenstein, Lev Kuleshov, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Dziga Vertov and Alexander Dovzhenko. Other major directors are also discussed at length. David Gillespie places primary focus on the text, with analysis concentrating on the artistic qualities, rather than the political implications, of each film. The result is not only a discussion of each director's contribution to the "golden age" and to world cinema but also an exploration of their own distinctive poetics.
('Pesn liubvi nedopetaia'), and in 1920 On the Red Front ('Na krasnom fronte'). By this time Kuleshov was already teaching at the State Film School in Moscow. 23 SHORT CUTS Kuleshov's best known film is The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr West in the Land of the Bolsheviks ('Neobychainye prikliucheniia Mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov'), made in 1924. A year later The Death Ray ('Luch smerti') appeared, a relatively violent film about international espionage, and in 1926 By the Law ('Po
(the bourgeois women 'stabbing' the Bolshevik sailor with their umbrellas in October, the factory manager's mistress in Strike who encourages the police to beat up the captured strike leader), in The General Line they are much more positive. Marfa Lapkina, an illiterate peasant woman, is the typical positive hero who would be imposed on Soviet culture in a few years. Yet in most Soviet cinema and literature of the time the hero is a man. In spite of this convention Eisenstein chose a woman to be
Shevchenko, the nineteenth-century poet who is the 85 SHORT CUTS symbol of Ukrainian culture and identity. Although the overall picture of the nationalists is negative, nevertheless it is also teasingly suggestive. As the film reaches its climax with the fighting around the Kiev Arsenal, Dovzhenko again captures both the struggle of the masses as well as individual grief, when his camera wanders among large-scale battles and individual deaths. Throughout the film Dovzhenko fills the screen
who were ideologically motivated and did produce films with 'correct' messages, also could not serve the purposes of the agitators, because the experimental style of the finest directors alienated the audiences. It was above all against these directors that the critics directed their fire. The charge against them was 'formalism' ... In the polemics against 'formalism' in cinema, however, the term came to describe any concern with the specifically aesthetic aspect of film-making, any deviation
CINEMA - (1995) 'Vertov, Lenin and Perestroika: the Cinematic Transposition of Reality', in Historical Journal of Rim, Radio and Television, 15, 1, 3-17. Rotha, Paul (1931) Cel/uloid: The Film Today. London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 135-53· Sadoul, Georges (1963) 'Bio·Filmographie de Dziga Vertov', in Cahiers du Cinma, 146, 21-9. Selezneva, Tamara (1972) Kinomysl 1920·kh godov. Leningrad: Iskusstvo. Seton, Marie (1978) Sergei M. Eisenstein: A Biography (2nd edn.). London: Dennis