The Movies and the Soviet Regime

More flexible, presences appear to us more appropriate to the very particular context of Soviet cinema, where the hidden matters as much, if not more, than the shown and where the meshes of the State net are most often critical. The use of presences makes it possible to cut through the horrific traces in Soviet films, but also in western feature films imported into the USSR, of various genres. A visit to makes perfect for the same now.

The Most Options

Above all, what is essential, the horrifying presences do not belong only to the film field, but also read in the official speeches of the media. The use of language in the Soviet public sphere is far from being an innocent act, and in no way constitutes a simple ritual. The appropriation of official directives by directors, and generally the actors of the cinema industry, is not measured in percentage of obedience or rejection of these, but participates in a form of re-appropriation and recreation of the outside world, as Alexei Yurchak has clearly shown. Presences are thus an essential tool for flushing out the hidden horror, if it exists, on the big screen, and deconstructing the official speeches of horror, in the press.

  • Third point, the analysis of these presences cannot be done without taking into account the political context. This is twofold: inside, the leaders seek to replay in the cinema a role of mobilizing crowds in the ideological struggle that opposes it to the West, a struggle that has never stopped; outside, the “new wave of horror” that swept through the West in the late 1970s was not without consequences for propaganda. Fourth and last point, the use (far from being exhaustive!) Of the Soviet archives currently available makes it possible to ask the question of the intentions and practices of each other and to have a view behind the scenes through the internal debates.

Crumbs on film

Throughout most of the history of the USSR, the official consensus on the condemnation of the horror film remains apparently strong. This consensus was formed from the end of the 1920s and was originally part of an attempt by the Soviet authorities to reject foreign cinema as a whole. While horror films are found in Tsarist Russia, but also shortly after 1917, in the late 1920s, foreign films were purged from film libraries and the Western film model was no longer in season. In the 1930s, when foreign feature films disappeared from the screens, it was impossible to draw inspiration openly from the West, especially for the horror film. It was not until the 1940s that horrific presences veritable crumbs of the genre – returned to Soviet screens. Oddly enough, this same period corresponds, in the West, to the establishment of censorship (quite relative in comparison to the Soviet), embodied by the Production Code Administration, and to the ebb of the horror film until 1939.

These “crumbs” or “presences” are reflected in the characters, the story or the staging.

The focal point of “genre crumbs” films is their construction of fear of an enemy. Seeking to frighten spectators with enemies is part of the identity construction of homo sovieticus, part of the overall strategy of the Communist Party from the 1920s. The fact is that in order to frighten, to make an enemy credible, directors sometimes choose to illustrate their words with effects that are eyeing the horror film. It is possible to use a quantitative criterion and distinguish two categories of feature films.