Creation myth and myth creation in Stalinist cinema

Authors: Dobrenko, Evgeny; Young, Sarah

Source: Studies in Russian & Soviet Cinema, Volume 1, Number 3, August 2007 , pp. 239-264(26)

Publisher: Intellect

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This article analyses Soviet historical imagination and its changes from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s through films dedicated to Civil War heroes. These films not only fixated the process of the transformation of the historical imagination in the Stalin era, but also introduced the development of what would become a dominant genre: the biographical film (biopic). Biopics resolved the opposition between faith in the people and the need for a hero through whom revolutionary class consciousness penetrated to the masses. The critical point in the genre's history was the canonical film of Socialist Realism, Chapaev (Vasil'ev Brothers, 1934). Then the counter-tradition, set out by Chapaev, was transformed in Aleksandr Dovzhenko's film Shchors (1939), before falling apart in Aleksandr Parkhomenko (Lukov, 1942) and Kotovskii (Faintsimmer, 1942). In this transformation from the epic (early Soviet revolutionary cinema) to the popular film (Chapaev) and back to the epic in the late 1930s (We Are from Kronstadt, Dzigan, 1936; Shchors) the logic of Soviet historical consciousness can be traced.

Keywords: Chapaev; Civil War; Dovzhenko; Stalinism; bio-picture; construction of history

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Sheffield.

Publication date: August 31, 2007

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  • Studies in Russian & Soviet Cinema focuses on pre-revolutionary, Soviet and post- Soviet film, its aesthetic development, and its position between ideology and industry. SRSC invites contributions that constitute original research. The journal seeks to promote research from established scholars as well as to encourage researchers new to the field.
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