Confronting the Holocaust: Mark Donskoi's The Unvanquished

Author: Hicks, Jeremy

Source: Studies in Russian & Soviet Cinema, Volume 3, Number 1, March 2009 , pp. 33-51(19)

Publisher: Intellect

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Mark Donskoi's The Unvanquished (Nepokorennye, Kiev Studios, 1945) should be seen as the first feature film to reconstruct events of the Holocaust, the first film in a genre that has become as prominent as it is important since the impact of Schindler's List (Spielberg, 1993). This article considers Donskoi's film in the broader context of portrayals of the Holocaust on Soviet territory, attempting to grasp why these mobile killing operations are less represented in film than the death camps, and why Soviet wartime and immediately post-war films of the Holocaust as a whole have been all but forgotten. When The Unvanquished is considered in relation to other films of the Holocaust, its restaging of the events of the Babii Iar massacre on the actual location of those events situate it as one of a series of post-war East European films that used genuine historic sites to reconstruct films of the Nazi genocide. The final section of the article considers how Donskoi's film was received both domestically and abroad, in France, Italy and the United States of America, in an attempt to explain why and how it was forgotten.

Keywords: Babii Iar; Donskoi; Holocaust; Soviet cinema; reconstruction; war films

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Queen Mary University of London.

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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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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