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“ StilygY ” and Russian Cinema

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  1. Screening Socialism and Post-socialism Presentation: Marianne Sloutskaia (28.09.2010) “StilygY” and Russian Cinema

  2. After the war, Russian cinema idolized the position of Stalin in Russian history. Artistic expression became more difficult and dangerous. Irony, expressionism and "inner soul drama" were to be avoided if a filmmaker wanted to stay out of trouble (1) Under Stalin, film was intended to educate the masses in “high” cultural values (2) Highly popular in this period were Stalinist musicals “By entertaining the masses with glimpses of utopia, the Stalinist musical promoted the illusion that ‘Life became better, comrades, life has become happier’ and that ‘We were born to make a fairy-tale come true’” (3) the 1930s

  3. Musical comedies of GrigoriiAleksandrovand Ivan Pyr’evin the 1930s and 1940s can certainly be called “blockbusters” in the modern sense  provided accessible and enjoyable entertainment, giving (through the medium of music) a sugary coating to a strong ideological core • Alexandrovused a mixture of jazz, music-hall and military marches  music familiar to an urban audience • Pye’ev used folk melodies to complement uplifting pictures of a thriving and happy workforce “enjoying the benefits of life in Stalin’s sun-blessed socialist paradise”  aimed at the rural workforce (4) Musical Comedies 1930-1940s

  4. GrigoriAlexandrov • The Merry Fellows (VeselieRebiata) 1934 • Plot: A musical comedy about the adventures of Kostya, with a musical gift, who becomes bandleader, and Anyuta, a maid who becomes a singer. • The Shining Path (Svetlyi Put’)1940 • Plot: a humble servant girl rises through the ranks of the Soviet industrial leadership after developing clever labor-saving work methods. • Audiences could enjoy the films’ comic turn on the Cinderella story while also learning about the value of efficiency in the workplace. (5)

  5. All major industries , including cinema, were pressed into emergency service after June 1941 • The army conscripted 250 experienced camera operators to make front-line newsreels  nearly 20 percent of them died in combat • Veteran filmmakers took military commissions and served to produce propaganda documentaries • 1942-1945: the industry released a large number of "Fighting Film Albums" : short, topical films, combining documentary and scripted materials. Each episode offered a clear message on the importance of contributing to the war effort (6) 1940s

  6. Late 1940s :cinema came under intense Communist Party scrutiny, (the single most repressive moment in the cultural history of Russia) films had to pass rigorous examination before they could go forward. • This gave rise to an official "theory of masterpieces" in postwar Soviet cinema very few films would be released and each film approved for release would be, by definition, a masterpiece • Most films that passed simply embraced party ideology and praised Stalin. For example, “The Fall of Berlin” by MikheilChiaureli (1949), a war drama in which Stalin is credited with making brilliant military decisions and thus defeating the Germans and saving the nation (6) 1940s (continued)

  7. 1950s -1960s • Stalin's death in 1953 • Within two years: a "thaw" in the party's cultural politics • Khrushchev (secretary of the party 1953 to 1964; premier 1958 to 1964) promised more creative freedom • Film industry’s productivity and diversity increased  by 1960 the USSR releasing over a hundred films annually and several banned films (ex. Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible) were finally available for viewing • Mid- to late 1950s: Soviet film artists reenter the international cinema community after two decades of isolation • Russian "new wave”: drawing inspirations from European art directors • For example: Shukshin's“There Lived Such a Lad” (1964), has loose narrative structure and elegant camera movement, resembling to the early work of François Truffaut • Late 1960s: Soviet regime hardend its policies and renews censorship (7)

  8. 1970s and early 1980s: period of stagnation (8) • 1985–1991:Gorbachev (the USSR's new leader) declares a policy of glasnost(openness) in the arts and public media, launching a set of reforms to modernize and democratize the Soviet economy • Reforms eliminated government censorship and reduced the extent to which Goskino could influence creative affairs. The Gorbachev regime also supported plans to privatize cinema • Subjects discussed in movies: USSR's socioeconomic problems, upsurge of crime and drug abuse • by 1995: 35% of theaters had closed, due to large influx of pirated video material (both Russian and foreign) (9) 1970s-1990s

  9. 1970s-1990s • Most widely debated film of the Glasnost movement: Vasily Pichul's “Little Vera” (1988) • Blunt, almost crude treatment of the aimless life; shot in a rough, cinéma vérité style

  10. Late 1990s- early 2000s: industry beginning to revitalize, through government subsidies 2000s: upswing in the Russian economy + foreign investment re-establish Russian cinema (9) 2000s

  11. Modern Cinema: Inhabited Island (2008) • Director: Fyodor Bondarchuk • Based on the famous novel by the Stugatsky brothers (who had the Soviet dictatorship in mind when writing the novel) • Planet Saraksh in 2157, an Earthling, by the name of Maxim, appears;Sarakh is a gloomy place where people walk in lines and sing anthems, those who disagree are executed;the freedom-loving Max must make a choice - to save this world or leave it as it is. • Bondarchuk believes that his film shows what life is like in any large state with global problems, but critics argue that it directly targets the problems in present day Russia (10)

  12. Stilyagy(Hipsters) • Director: Valery Todorovsky • Release date: 25th December, 2008 • Group of friends in the 1950s struggling to be different from the crowd and for that, being pursued by the Komsomol who (with Bolshevist persistence) see them (Stilyagi) as the enemies of the Motherland

  13. Not a historical film, more of a ”fantasy about the Russian 50s” The movies is about not wanting to be part of the crowd is true for any generation not just the 50s Does not think that this is a musical in its “pure state” On choice of music: 80s rock chosen, as the people who pioneered this music were exactly in the same position as the stilyagi in the 50s On last scene with Punks and Goths: “they face the same problems now that stilyagy faced then, as now people are tiered of being different - they all want to be the same, as for example the movement ‘Nashi’ ” (11) Valery TodorovskyoN the film

  14. Widely believed that Hipsters is an allegory of Putin’s Russia, where those who dare to be different are singled out • The Komsomol resemble the pro-Kremlin youth organization “Nashi” (12) • The film even contains a clever rephrasing of the famous Putin line he addressed to the editor of the opposition radio station "Echo Moskvy" Alexei Venediktov:”You’re not a traitor. You’re an enemy” “You’re worse than an enemy. You’re a traitor!” (13) • Soloviov (popular Russian journalist): “A movie with such a quality subject and script has not been made in Russia for a very long time. Ideological films are so important, especially as this one talks about the freedom of being who you want to be and standing out from the crowd” (14) • Kabakov: “It’s all together normal to have made a comedy out of a painful experience as that of the Stilyagi… It is totally in in the spirit of idealization of our Soviet past, which started from “The old songs about Important Things (a Russian Christmas musical program)” (15) Critics on the film

  15. 1. Andrew James Horton “Russian and Soviet Cinema, 1896 – 1953 The Beginnings to the Death of Stalin” http://www.greencine.com/static/primers/early-russia-2.jsp 2. C. Vaughan James “Soviet Realism: Origins and theory” (London, 1973), 88. In David C. Gillespie “The Sound of Music: Soundtrack and Song in Soviet Film”Slavic Review Vol. 62, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 473-490. Published by: The American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies http://www.jstor.org/stable/3185802, p.473 3. Richard Taylor “But Eastwars, Look, The Land is Brighter: Toward Topography of Utopia in the Stalinist Musical” in Diana Holmes and Allison Smith, eds., “100 Years of European Cinema: Entartainment or Ideology?” (Manchester, 2000), 19, 24. 4. David C. Gillespie “The Sound of Music: Soundtrack and Song in Soviet Film Slavic ReviewVol. 62, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 473-490. Published by: The American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studieshttp://www.jstor.org/stable/3185802, p. 475 5. http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Russia-and-Soviet-Union-THE-CINEMA-OF-STALINISM-1930-1941.html 6. War and its aftermath: 1941–1953 - Russia and Soviet Union - film, movie, wife, born, cinema, role, story, documentaryhttp://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Russia-and-Soviet-Union-WAR-AND-ITS-AFTERMATH-1941-1953.html#ixzz10oI1z537 references

  16. 7. Thaw and new wave: 1954–1968 - Russia and Soviet Union - film, name, cinema, storyhttp://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Russia-and-Soviet-Union-THAW-AND-NEW-WAVE-1954-1968.html#ixzz10oMidqIK 8. Stagnation period: 1969–1985 - Russia and Soviet Union - film, children, movie, director, music, name, cinema, agency, storyhttp://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Russia-and-Soviet-Union-STAGNATION-PERIOD-1969-1985.html#ixzz10oRHLwzD 9. http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Russia-and-Soviet-Union-GLASNOST-AND-THE-POST-SOVIETSITUATION-1985-2002.html

  17. 10. Dissenting blockbusters MuminShakirov, 15 January 2009, http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/dissenting-blockbusters 11. Валерий Тодоровский о «Стилягах», деньгах, сексе и кинокритике (03.04.2009) http://www.vokrug.tv/article/show/Valerii_Todorovskii_o_Stilyagah_dengah_sekse_i_kinokritike/ 12. Dissenting blockbusters MuminShakirov, 15 January 2009, http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/dissenting-blockbusters) 13. http://www.moviecritic.com.au/hipsters-russian-film-fest-09/ 14. Владимир Соловьев.утро морозное. Блог Владимира Соловьева (9 ноября 2008) 15. — А. Кабаков (Я. Колесинская.Александр Кабаков: Хочу тиражи, как у Минаева, но быть как Минаев — увольте. «Сибкрай» (29.04.2009) ).