Soviet Cinema - The Path to Stalin

In the light of the revised interest in the Soviet cinema Richard Taylor questions whether our traditional view of its output after 1917 as mere uplift (dreary or otherwise) is justified.

The traditional view of the development of Soviet cinema in the inter-war period is of a golden age of experimentation in the 1920s, followed by a long period of decline and stagnation, when cinema was expected merely to play a key role in promoting the values of socialist construction and cultural revolution that were regarded as essential to the modernisation of the country.

Like all cliches, this traditional view contains an element of truth, but it also represents a terrible oversimplification, seeing the 1920s as a snow-white utopia and the 1950s as a black hell. But, if we look more closely, both at the films that were made and at the events that surrounded them, we shall find that the story was not that simple – cinema as an institution and the film-making that lies at its heart are themselves complex processes.

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