Nikolai Erdman and the poetics of children’s film scripts
Author: Kovalova, Anna
Source: Studies in Russian & Soviet Cinema, Volume 6, Number 2, September 2012 , pp. 163-175(13)
Abstract:Nikolai Erdman is mainly known as the author of two remarkable plays: Mandat/The Warrant (1925) and Samoubiitsa/The Suicide (1928), although he also wrote numerous sketches for the variety theatre and the circus, as well as film scripts, which constitute the bulk of Erdman’s literary output. Among these film scripts there are a range of children’s film dramas, an area in which he made numerous discoveries of historical significance. With his co-author Mikhail Vol'pin, Erdman wrote the script for Aleksandr Rou’s fairy-tale film Morozko (1964); subsequently he developed a new direction of fantastic cinema, which may be called – to use Evgenii Shvarts’s expression – the poetics of ‘an ordinary miracle’. Soviet cinema during wartime and the 1950s was dominated by the aesthetics of the trick, where the fantastic atmosphere was created through new technological means; later, technical miracles no longer captivated audiences. Morozko contains many miracles, but they do not consist of tricks and magic – as was the case in previous Russian fairy-tale films; instead, the spectator’s attention is held by the world of ordinary and, at the same time, ridiculous characters: the Soviet fairy-tale film adhered to the laws of comedy. Erdman and Vol'pin consistently rejected the traditions of Russian fairy-tale films, with the staging of tricks and the use of masks as heroes, as well as patriotic messages declaimed from the screen. At the same time, the scriptwriters introduced innovative principles to the fairy-tale film, which had been alien or peripheral to the genre: they created psychologically authentic characters who, on the one hand, were portrayed according to the principles of the lyrical comedy: from a comic point of view; on the other hand, they were involved in situations that are not at all comedic, but tragic. Erdman and Vol'pin thus adapted the genre of tragicomedy of The Warrant and The Suicide for the fairy-tale film.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: St Petersburg State University
Publication date: 2012-09-07
- 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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