Russian Cinema (Inside Film Series)
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Treasury Theatre. Monthly screenings of the best in Latin American and Spanish film. Feb—Dec Treasury Theatre. Mon 14 Oct 9am Meet the Kitfox Games communications director in this special edition of our monthly meetup. Weather the storm without getting wet at this monumental artwork's Australian premiere.
From the opening shot, Man with a movie camera dazzles with all the tricks of the trade. Using superimpositions, split screens, double exposures and dissolves, Vertov merges footage shot across Moscow, Kiev and Odessa into a dawn-to-dusk city symphony. Traffic, crowds and machinery hurtle with electric optimism toward a radiant Soviet future.
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For Vertov and his contemporaries, editing — or montage — was the key to reinventing cinema for a new society. Where Hollywood cinema strove for continuity, s Soviet filmmakers created friction between each shot. Screens with a score by composer Michael Nyman.
The Gallery apologises for any inconvenience caused by this change in schedule. Inspired by the editor of Man with a movie camera. In Stalinist Russia, a woman navigates politics, bureaucracy and the impetuous outbursts of collaborators to create something extraordinary despite the odds.
The country bumpkin stumbles through a series of misadventures in love, mistaken identity and runaway piglets. Not surprisingly, New Moscow offended the censors Stalin personally watched every film and immediately disappeared from view. This rarely screened comedy is testament to the artistry of a renegade Soviet visionary. Have you heard of Larisa Shepitko? In the s, this gifted and glamorous Soviet filmmaker attracted the same international acclaim as her celebrated male contemporaries. Her fourth and final film, The ascent opens with the monochrome palette of a deep blizzard in German-occupied Belarus.
Cut off from their troop, the starving pair are soon captured by German soldiers. The drama shifts from the earthbound to the spiritual. Framed in close-ups like Orthodox icons, Rybak and Sotnikov face a harrowing decision: collaborate with the enemy or achieve transcendence.
A few years later, Shepitko was killed in a car crash outside Leningrad, at age The Soviet Union lost a revelatory, humanist filmmaker. The black-and-white cinematography, by Sergei Urusevsky, features off-kilter compositions and striking, Bauhaus angles. For Western audiences, the film arrived like a bolt from the blue. Note: Due to a distributor error, this film will screen in an English-language dubbed version not subtitled as previously advertised.
The results were films like Repentance , which dealt with repression in Georgia , and the allegorical science fiction movie Kin-dza-dza! After the death of Stalin , Soviet filmmakers were given a freer hand to film what they believed audiences wanted to see in their film's characters and stories. The industry remained a part of the government and any material that was found politically offensive or undesirable, was either removed, edited, reshot, or shelved.
The definition of "socialist realism" was liberalized to allow development of more human characters, but communism still had to remain uncriticized in its fundamentals. Additionally, the degree of relative artistic liberality was changed from administration to administration. The first Soviet Russian state film organization, the Film Subdepartment of the People's Commissariat for Education , was established in The work of the nationalized motion-picture studios was administered by the All-Russian Photography and Motion Picture Department, which was recognized in into Goskino , which in became Sovkino.
The world's first state-filmmaking school, the First State School of Cinematography , was established in Moscow in During the Russian Civil War , agitation trains and ships visited soldiers, workers, and peasants. Lectures, reports, and political meetings were accompanied by newsreels about events at the various fronts. In the s, the documentary film group headed by Dziga Vertov blazed the trail from the conventional newsreel to the "image centered publicistic film", which became the basis of the Soviet film documentary.
Typical of the s were the topical news serial Kino-Pravda and the film Forward, Soviet! Other important films of the s were Esfir Shub 's historical-revolutionary films such as The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty. The film Hydropeat by Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky marked the beginning of popular science films.
Innovation in Russian filmmaking was expressed particularly in the work of Eisenstein. Battleship Potemkin was noteworthy for its innovative montage and metaphorical quality of its film language. It won world acclaim.
'There are no different truths': the last years of Soviet cinema
Eisenstein developed concepts of the revolutionary epic in the film October. Pudovkin developed themes of revolutionary history in the film The End of St. Petersburg Other noteworthy silent films were films dealing with contemporary life such as Boris Barnet 's The House on Trubnaya. The films of Yakov Protazanov were devoted to the revolutionary struggle and the shaping of a new way of life, such as Don Diego and Pelagia Ukrainian director Alexander Dovzhenko was noteworthy for the historical-revolutionary epic Zvenigora , Arsenal and the poetic film Earth.
In the early s, Russian filmmakers applied socialist realism to their work. Among the most outstanding films was Chapaev , a film about Russian revolutionaries and society during the Revolution and Civil War. During the late s and early s the Stalin wing of the Communist Party consolidated its authority and set about transforming the Soviet Union on both the economic and cultural fronts. The new leadership declared a "cultural revolution" in which the party would exercise control over cultural affairs, including artistic expression.
Cinema existed at the intersection of art and economics; so it was destined to be thoroughly reorganized in this episode of economic and cultural transformation. To implement central planning in cinema, the new entity Soyuzkino was created in All the hitherto autonomous studios and distribution networks that had grown up under NEP's market would now be coordinated in their activities by this planning agency. Soyuzkino's authority also extended to the studios of the national republics such as VUFKU , which had enjoyed more independence during the s.
Soyuzkino consisted of an extended bureaucracy of economic planners and policy specialists who were charged to formulate annual production plans for the studios and then to monitor the distribution and exhibition of finished films. With central planning came more centralized authority over creative decision making. Script development became a long, torturous process under this bureaucratic system, with various committees reviewing drafts and calling for cuts or revisions.
In the s censorship became more exacting with each passing year. Feature film projects would drag out for months or years and might be terminated at any point. Alexander Dovzhenko drew from Ukrainian folk culture in such films as Earth along the way because of the capricious decision of one or another censoring committee.
Cinema of Russia - Wikipedia
This redundant oversight slowed down production and inhibited creativity. Although central planning was supposed to increase the film industry's productivity, production levels declined steadily through the s. The industry was releasing over one-hundred features annually at the end of the NEP period, but that figure fell to seventy by and to forty-five by It never again reached triple digits during the remainder of the Stalin era. Veteran directors experienced precipitous career declines under this system of control; whereas Eisenstein was able to make four features between and , he completed only one film, Alexander Nevsky during the entire decade of the s.
His planned adaptation of the Ivan Turgenev story Bezhin Meadow —37 was halted during production in and officially banned, one of many promising film projects that fell victim to an exacting censorship system. It stopped importing films after out of concern that foreign films exposed audiences to capitalist ideology. The industry also freed itself from dependency on foreign technologies. During its industrialization effort of the early s, the USSR finally built an array of factories to supply the film industry with the nation's own technical resources. To secure independence from the West, industry leaders mandated that the USSR develop its own sound technologies, rather than taking licenses on Western sound systems.
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Petersburg and Pavel Tager in Moscow, conducted research through the late s on complementary sound systems, which were ready for use by The implementation process, including the cost of refitting movie theaters, proved daunting, and the USSR did not complete the transition to sound until Nevertheless, several directors made innovative use of sound once the technology became available.
In Enthusiasm: The Symphony of Donbass , his documentary on coal mining and heavy industry, Dziga Vertov based his soundtrack on an elegantly orchestrated array of industrial noises. In The Deserter Pudovkin experimented with a form of "sound counterpoint" by exploiting tensions and ironic dissonances between sound elements and the image track.
And in Alexander Nevsky , Eisenstein collaborated with the composer Sergei Prokofiev on an "operatic" film style that elegantly coordinated the musical score and the image track. As Soviet cinema made the transition to sound and central planning in the early s, it was also put under a mandate to adopt a uniform film style, commonly identified as "socialist realism". In the party leadership ordered the literary community to abandon the avant-garde practices of the s and to embrace socialist realism, a literary style that, in practice, was actually close to 19th-century realism.
The other arts, including cinema, were subsequently instructed to develop the aesthetic equivalent. For cinema, this meant adopting a film style that would be legible to a broad audience, thus avoiding a possible split between the avant-garde and mainstream cinema that was evident in the late s. The director of Soyuzkino and chief policy officer for the film industry, Boris Shumyatsky — , who served from to , was a harsh critic of the montage aesthetic.
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He championed a "cinema for the millions" [ citation needed ] , which would use clear, linear narration. Although American movies were no longer being imported in the s, the Hollywood model of continuity editing was readily available, and it had a successful track record with Soviet movie audiences. Soviet socialist realism was built on this style, which assured tidy storytelling. Various guidelines were then added to the doctrine: positive heroes to act as role models for viewers; lessons in good citizenship for spectators to embrace; and support for reigning policy decisions of the Communist Party.
Such aesthetic policies, enforced by the rigorous censorship apparatus of Soyuzkino, resulted in a number of formulaic films. Apparently, they did succeed in sustaining a true "cinema of the masses". The s witnessed some stellar examples of popular cinema. The single most successful film of the decade, in terms of both official praise and genuine affection from the mass audience, was Chapayev , directed by the Vasilyev brothers.
Based on the life of a martyred Red Army commander, the film was touted as a model of socialist realism, in that Chapayev and his followers battled heroically for the revolutionary cause. The film also humanized the title character, giving him personal foibles, an ironic sense of humour, and a rough peasant charm.