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Home, sweet home: The significance of the apartment in the film Malen'kaia Vera/Little Vera

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Abstract:

This article analyses the role of the apartment in one of the most watched feature films to appear in the former USSR, Malen'kaia Vera/Little Vera (1988). In the article it is argued that through the largely ironic role of the apartment in the film, a subtle, but powerful debunking of socialist realism is achieved. The majority of the film is set inside the cramped family apartment, the sense of claustrophobia heightened by the 'roving' camera, which cannot find room enough to film people or events satisfactorily. The film is framed at its start and end by images of the city and the apartment, with its central characters in this way contained both at the macro and micro levels by the inescapability of these quintessentially Soviet images. Little Vera, however, unlike the more typical pre-glasnost Soviet films, offers no relief (comic, redemptive or otherwise) of any kind and contains no positive message, uplifting imagery or bold music. In addition, the film's refusal to offer any solutions, or even resolutions, to the issues and events with which it deals, essentially represents in its unresolved complexity the inverse of socialist realist philosophy. Ultimately, Vera's fate and her inability to commit suicide are seen to be directly related to the physical reality of the apartment in which she lives.

Keywords: RUSSIAN CINEMA; SOCIALIST REALISM; VASILY PICHUL

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/seci.8.1.57_1

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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  • Studies in European Cinema provides an outlet for research into any aspect of European cinema and is unique in its interdisciplinary nature, celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage across the continent. The journal is distinctive in bringing together a range of European cinemas in one volume and in its positioning of the discussions within a range of contexts - the cultural, historical, textual, and many others.
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