The history of Russian film raises central questions about boundaries. The subject cannot encompass all of the production of the Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union, still less that of all the countries that arose following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, Aleksandr Dovzhenko, among the Fathers of Soviet film, is a fact of the Russian and Ukrainian cinemas; Mikhail Chiaureli, in the Stalinist generation, a fact of the Georgian and Russian cinemas; and later, Sergei Paradzhanov, from the generation that reached artistic maturity after Stalin's death, of the Armenian, Ukrainian, Georgian, and Russian cinemas. Iakov Protazanov is a pre-revolutionary Russian filmmaker and a post-revolutionary Soviet one. At times films that could not be made in Moscow or Leningrad were made in the outlying republics. The work of film artists in emigration or temporarily working in France, Germany, Mexico, the United States, and elsewhere enters into various constructions of the subject. Ivan Mozzhukhin, Andrei Konchalovsky, and Andrei Tarkovsky are candidates for inclusion in histories in international contexts. Remaining links between filmmaking in Russia and in other former Soviet republics call for exploration in post-Soviet histories. At the same time, the meaning of “Russian film” becomes a self-reflexive and existential question owing to the collapse of the notion of Russia as an imperial power, as well as to the changing meanings of “culture,” which are especially relevant for film, a distinctly “popular” art.
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