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Unit II. Soviet War Films (Part II)

In Semen Timoshenkos Celestial Sloth (Nebesnyi tikhohod, Lenfilm 1945), three bachelor pilots vow not to fall in love until the war is over, yet one after other they break their vow when they meet women pilots. The women are, however, not portrayed as devout Soviet soldiers, but as flirtatious and pretty, guided by these strong men. The film was a box office success after its release in 1946, bringing an upbeat note to Soviet life. In Abram Rooms The Invasion (Nashestvie, TsOKS 1944), the support of the Soviet campaign extends to the ex-prisoner Fedor Talanov, who had served a sentence - unjustly. He wants to fight, but is not trusted. Only when he kills a German officer and subsequently goes to the gallows to save the partisan chief who had rejected him earlier can he redeem himself and profess his true love for the fatherland. The film caused controversy when the authorities refused to believe that soldiers would be rejected, arguing that Soviet men were never sentenced unjustly. All these films draw compassionate and appealing portrayals of the heroes and heroines who sacrifice their lives for the fatherland or are unjustly treated. The notion of sacrifice of life for the country carried within it religious overtones, further enhanced by the sudden return of church officials to the public arena at the height of the war.

The singly most important film during the war is without doubt Ivan the Terrible (Ivan groznyi, Mosfilm), made in two parts and comparing the leadership of the sixteenth-century tsar with Stalin. Stalin had commissioned Eisenstein to make a film about Ivan the Terrible, wanting to have comparisons drawn between his own strong leadership and that of Ivan, who had unified Russia in the sixteenth century.

In the first part Eisenstein showed Ivans coronation and his plans for a Russian state, which are opposed by his close friends Kurbsky and Kolychev. Ivan (in a stunning performance by Cherkasov) wins the support of Maliuta Skuratov, who would become his most faithful servant. Kazan is freed from the Tartar yoke and a new ally, Basmanov, warns Ivan of the boyars. Ivan marries Anastasia and is grief-stricken when she is poisoned by Yefrosinia, who, in a plot with the boyars, tries to place her son Vladimir on the throne. When Basmanov suggests the formation of an army of oprichniki (the tsars private guard), the tsar agrees, but retires to the convent Alexandrova Slobodan and will only return at he peoples request. The people approach the monastery, forming an impressively long line in the snow-covered fields, confirming to Ivan that he is loved by the people, the assertion he sought. Ivan forms a towering figure against white walls of the monastery in the final frame, as he rises to the challenge. The first part satisfied Stalin: it revealed parallels both in personal and political life, such as the theme of betrayal through friends, which reflected Stalins increasing suspicion after the Purges; Stalins grief after the loss of his wife Nadia, allegedly killed by his enemies (she actually committed suicide); and the need for a private guard (Stalin NKVD). All these parallels served to justify Ivans actions, sanctioning them through the final scene, which expressed the peoples approval. Having united the people behind him and sidelined the boyars, the film depicts a strong man.


Date: 2015-12-18; view: 1087

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