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the art of producing motion pictures of real, staged, or animated events.
Film-making combines a synthesis of the aesthetic properties of literature, theater, fine arts, and music with its own unique means of expression, of which the two most important are the photographic nature of its imagery, which can re-create reality with utmost authenticity, and editing. Since screen characters are perceived visually and aurally and since films are easily accessible to a mass audience and considered as a medium have a wide range of possibilities, film-making is the most important of the arts (V. I. Lenin, in the collection Samoe vazhnoe iz vsekh iskusstv, 1963, p. 124). Intended for a huge mass audience and creating the illusion that the events it depicts are real, film-making is a significant means of shaping the viewers’ concepts of reality, ethical views, and aesthetic tastes.
Film-making plays a major role in the public, political, and cultural life of the Soviet Union, aiding the Communist Party in educating the people in the spirit of communism and internationalism. In the USSR and other socialist countries it serves the people and the cause of peace and understanding among the working people of the world. In the bourgeois countries most motion pictures are used in the interests of the exploiting classes for disseminating reactionary ideas.
The motion-picture camera’s mobility and the variety of optical devices used in filming make it possible to frame vast areas and large groups of people (long shot), several persons inter-reacting (medium shot), or a person’s face or a single detail (close-up). Thus the camera can single out the essential and aesthetically meaningful aspects of its object. Editing is used to express the film-maker’s thoughts, to create continuity, to organize the visual narrative, to influence interpretive judgments through the juxtaposition of shots, and to create the film’s rhythm.
Film-making is usually a complex creative and technical process that involves persons from several professions, including the screenwriter, who creates the screenplay; the director, who interprets and realizes the script and directs the other people involved in the film; the actors, who portray the characters; the cameraman, who modifies the action through composition, lighting, and color schemes; the art director, who creates the visual characterization for the film through the sets and costumes (and in animated films, determines the characters’ physical appearance, as well); and the composer.
Four basic forms of film-making have developed over the years: the feature film, which brings screenplays or adaptations of prose works, plays, or poetry to the screen; the documentary, which is a unique type of visual publicism intent on capturing reality directly; the animated film, which “brings to life” drawings or puppet characters; and the educational film, which employs methods from the three other forms to disseminate scientific information.
The feature film can draw on the epic genre, poetry, or drama, but most screen works of a narrative nature are closely related to drama, particularly in their reliance on dramatic conflict.
The documentary has the entire scope of the publicistic genres of literature and journalism at its disposal. It combines visual publicism with film reporting.
The images in graphic and three-dimensional animated films are created by filming stills of consecutive phases of a movement of either drawn characters or puppets. Animated films are usually intended for children.
Educational films acquaint the viewers with nature, society, scientific discoveries, and inventions; re-create the creative processes of scientists, scholars, and artists; and visually demonstrate processes from physics, chemistry, and biology. They rely both on straightforward educational and on artistic means to make their point, depending on the theme and object of the film.
Motion-picture genres, which were quite clear-cut in the early stages of film-making (melodrama, adventure, comedy, and so on), are now in a state of flux, tending to merge or disappear entirely. New trends have combined elements of prose, drama, and poetry in the same film. The problem of pure versus mixed genres also involves creative individuality and the aesthetic vision of the director, screenwriter, and other people making the film.
Making and showing motion pictures requires a highly developed technology and heavy financial outlays. Film-making is not only an art but also a branch of industry and commerce. As a result, monopoly capital in the bourgeois countries has taken over the film industry (production and distribution) and imposed harsh ideological control over the content of films that are made and shown. Only in the socialist countries, where the means of production and distribution are in government hands, can film-makers fully turn their creative energies to the ideological, ethical, and aesthetic education of the mass audience.
Historical survey.EARLY PERIOD. The history of film-making is conventionally divided into four periods. The first period ex-tends from the invention of the Cinématographe by the brothers L. and A. Lumière (1895) to the end of World War I (1914–18). Motion pictures were becoming popular all over the world. Beginning as a technological attraction (the “moving pictures”), films soon diversified into feature films, newsreels, and educational films (travelogues, for the most part).
The earliest motion pictures (roughly pre-1908) were filmed in large segments, which were connected by title cards that explained the action. The camera was usually stationary and took in an area approximating the size of a theatrical stage. Actors used stage acting techniques but tried to compensate for the lack of sound by exaggerated mimic gestures.
Mastery of the techniques for the medium’s unique features began in the second half of this period (1908–18). Directors expanded their use of space and tried such new narrative devices as alternation of shots and montage. Actors developed the craft of acting for the camera. Artists moved from flat painted scenery to multidimensional sets that created a sense of authenticity. Cross-cutting, begun by J. S. Blackton in the USA, G. Méliès and E. Cohl in France, V. A. Starevich in Russia, and G. Pastrone in Italy, was perfected.
However, most motion pictures of this period were not independent works of art. D. W. Griffith (USA) was influenced by English realistic prose; Ia. A. Protazanov and V. R. Gardin (Russia) limited themselves to screen versions of Russian realistic prose and drama; M. Sennett and C. Chaplin (USA) and M. Linder (France) developed the traditions of circus clowning and pantomime. There were a few artistic successes, but the overwhelming majority of films remained typical manifestations of bourgeois mass culture.
SILENT FILMS. The second period of the development of film-making was the 1920’s—the era of the silent film as an independent art. Soviet cinematography made the decisive contributions to the exploration and mastery of the medium’s unique possibili-ties and expressive and representational means. The Great October Socialist Revolution, which freed film-making from commercial considerations, created an atmosphere conducive to an expansion of creativity among Soviet film-makers.
The course of Soviet cinematography was determined by the desire to assimilate and reflect the new revolutionary reality. V. I. Lenin’s dictum that the production of Soviet films should begin with newsreels was put into practice. Straight newsreel reporting of Soviet events soon evolved into other forms: D. Vertov made poetic documentaries that delved into the figurative and publicistic interpretation of the events and E. I. Shub created compilation films on the Revolution. The influence of the documentary style was very strong in the film epics about the Revolution by S. M. Eisenstein, V. I. Pudovkin, A. P. Dovzhenko, and N. M. Shengelaia. By the 1920’s the party’s Leninist national policy led to the emergence of national film-making among the Ukrainians, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Byelorussians, Armenians, and Uzbeks.
Revolutionary themes played a major role in the multinational cinema of the USSR. The struggle for a new life-style and the conflict between the new socialist morality and remnants of the past were embodied in the motion pictures of Ia. A. Protazanov, F. M. Ermler, E. V. Cherviakov, S. I. Iutkevich, G. M. Stabovoi, G. N. Tasin, M. E. Chiaureli, A. I. Bek-Nazarov, Iu. V. Tarich, and O. N. Frelikh. The major achievements of Soviet film-making of this period were epic depictions of the revolutionary struggle. Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1927) by Eisenstein, Mother (1926) and The End of St. Petersburg (1927) by Pudovkin, Arsenal (1929) and Earth (1930) by Dovzhenko, and Eliso (1928) by Shengelaia had an enormous influence on progressive cinematography throughout the world because they first used the medium to depict the struggling masses. The Soviet innovators enriched and developed the language of film, particularly editing as a means of ideologically interpreting and evaluating events, through their presentation of ideological and thematic material. Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and L. V. Kuleshov wrote their fundamental theoretical works in this period.
The trend-setting French cinematographers of the 1920’s who belonged to the avant-garde (L. Delluc, J. Epstein, M. L’Her-bier, and G. Dulac) marked a protest against commercial, anti-artistic film-making. The movement had no political program, and its members were united only by an antibourgeois sentiment that often led to mere formalistic experimentation. However, several realist directors got their start in the group, including A. Gance, J. Renoir, R. Clair, and J. Feyder.
Germany, where the postwar crisis of bourgeois society was most pronounced, produced commercial entertainment films with a purely “soothing” function as well as expressionist films dealing with the psychopathology of people alienated from society (R. Wiene, P. Leni, and F. Lang in part) and realistic films of a democratic tendency (F. W. Murnau, K. Grüne, G. W. Pabst, and S. Dudow). The Union of People’s Film was founded in 1928 in an attempt to promote German proletarian film-making. But after the fascist seizure of power in 1933 the progressive German motion-picture industry fell into decline, and the eminent film-makers were forced to flee the country.
The US motion-picture industry monopolized the screens of the capitalist countries. Hollywood movies were shown throughout the world and, usually, in the guise of mindless entertainment, brought stereotypes of bourgeois morality to the viewer and reaffirmed the ideas of class reconciliation. Nevertheless, the sharp social contradictions of US life were reflected in a few works of major directors—for example, Chaplin, who expressed the tragedy of “the little man” through comedy; E. von Stroheim, who exposed the power of money (Greed, 1923); and K. Vidor, who directed one of the best silent antiwar films (The Big Parade, 1925). The democratic tendencies of American culture found expression in their work.
Film-making in Sweden and Denmark, which produced a number of talented directors and actors in the 1920’s, could not compete with Hollywood. Their best directors and actors moved to other countries—for example, M. Stiller and V. Seastrom (Sjostrom) went to the USA, G. Garbo to Germany and then the USA, and C. T. Dreyer to France, where he directed the outstanding The Passion of Joan of Arc (1927).
The British film market was almost completely in the power of Hollywood by the 1920’s. The most important phenomenon of British film-making of the late 1920’s was the emergence of a national school of documentary film headed by J. Grierson, whose work was strongly influenced by the theories of Eisenstein.
THE ADVENT OF SOUND. The third period covers the 1930’s and the early 1940’s. The development of sound in the 1930’s changed the artistic nature of film-making. It brought cinema closer to literature and drama, made possible a deeper exploration of the human psyche in film, and affected imagery and editing.
Soviet film-making experienced an upsurge in the 1930’s and reaffirmed its socialist realist position. The major themes became the working class, the kolkhoz peasants, the Soviet intelligentsia, the struggle of the Communist Party for the October Revolution’s victory, and socialist construction. Soviet film-makers concentrated on creating representative types from the people and presenting the most important events of the revolutionary past and present through the development of these types. The national character of the positive heroes created by the Soviet cinema guaranteed the success of the films with millions of viewers.
The party as educator and leader of the masses was a central theme of many major films, including Counterplan (1932; directed by F. M. Ermler and S. I. Iutkevich), Chapaev (1934; directed by G. N. Vasil’ev and S. D. Vasil’ev; title role played by B. A. Babochkin), the Maxim trilogy (1935–39; directed by G. M. Kozintsev and L. Z. Trauberg; starring B. P. Chirkov), We Are From Kronstadt (1936; directed by E. L. Dzigan; screen-play by V. V. Vishnevskii), Baltic Deputy (1937; directed by A. G. Zarkhi and I. E. Kheifits; starring N. K. Cherkasov), and Shchors (1939; directed by Dovzhenko).
The experience gathered over the years in working on historical revolutionary themes and in presenting revolutionary Communist characters paved the way for Soviet film-makers to portray V. I. Lenin on the screen in Lenin in October and Lenin in 1918 (1937–39; directed by M. I. Romm; screenplay by A. Ia. Kapler; Lenin played by B. V. Shchukin) and The Man With a Gun (1938; directed by S. I. Iutkevich; screenplay by N. F. Pogodin; Lenin played by M. M. Shtraukh).
The genres and themes of Soviet film-making expanded. Such directors as V. M. Petrov, M. E. Chiaureli, I. A. Savchenko, Eisenstein, and Pudovkin devoted their historical films to the military and patriotic traditions of the peoples of the USSR. The artistic traditions of Russian realistic prose, with its sensitive psychological analysis, were applied to contemporary subjects by the directors S. A. Gerasimov and Iu. Ia. Raizman. V. M. Petrov, G. L. Roshal’, M. S. Donskoi, and Ia. A. Protazanov made screen versions of outstanding Russian and Soviet prose works and classics of the theater. Soviet musical comedy was being developed successfully by the directors G. V. Aleksandrov and I. A. Pyr’ev and the composers I. O. Dunaevskii and D. Ia. Pokrass.
The documentary took on added importance after the fascist German attack on the USSR. Footage taken by front-line cameramen was used for newsreels and documentaries on the most important events of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45)—for example, Defeat of the German Armies Near Moscow (1942; directed by L. V. Varlamov and I. P. Kopalin). The material from the newsreels was artistically interpreted both through editing and by the scripts of such documentaries as The Fight for Our Soviet Ukraine (1943; directed by Dovzhenko and Iu. I. Solntseva), Liberated France (1944; directed by S. I. Iutkevich), and Berlin (1945; directed by Iu. Ia. Raizman).
Major achievements of the feature films of the war years were the characters of Soviet patriots created in the motion pictures Secretary of the District Committee (1942; directed by I. A. Pyr’ev; screenplay by I. L. Prut; starring V. V. Vanin), She Defends Her Country (1943; directed by F. M. Ermler; screenplay by A. Ia. Kapler; starring V. P. Maretskaia), The Rainbow (1944; directed by M. S. Donskoi; based on the story by V. L. Vasilevskaia; starring N. M. Uzhvii), Girl No. 217 (1944; directed by M. I. Romm; screenplay by E. I. Gabrilovich; starring E. A. Kuz’mina), and Invasion (1945; directed by A. M. Room, based on the play by L. M. Leonov; starring O. P. Zhakov). S. I. Iutkevich and K. K. Iudin produced comedies with war themes.
The changeover to sound in the USA resulted in numerous mass-produced commercial film revues, gangster movies, and screen versions of Broadway shows and variety acts. Animated films became popular, particularly through the work of W. Disney. Nevertheless, the economic crisis led to the accurate portrayal of ordinary workers’ lives in the best American motion pictures. Social criticism surfaced in the works of K. Vidor (Our Daily Bread, 1934), Chaplin (Modern Times, 1935), W. Wyler (Dead End, 1937), J. Ford (The Grapes of Wrath, 1940), and O. Welles (Citizen Kane, 1941).
During World War II (1939–45), in which the USA fought on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition, antifascist themes were reflected, as a rule, in detective and melodramatic films. The only consistently antifascist film was Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1941). Other important features of American cinema of the period were the war newsreels and documentaries, which were made outside Hollywood.
In the last years of World War II and particularly after the war, American reactionary forces began a “witch-hunt” in Hollywood in an attempt to stem the USSR’s rising international authority and the spread of socialist ideas. Progressive filmmakers were persecuted and deprived of the right to work in motion pictures, forced to leave the USA (Chaplin), or relegated to work on entertainment films. There was a sharp increase in the release of anti-Soviet and anticommunist films in Hollywood; work in such films was seen as proof of political “loyalty.” American film-making was undergoing a profound crisis.
Such countries as Germany, Italy, and Japan used motion pictures to further imperialist and chauvinist propaganda right up until their military defeat. Fascist Germany and Italy concentrated on films that distorted reality for these ends, while Japan created movies with historical and contemporary themes that stressed the cult of the samurai.
British motion pictures of the 1930’s centered on depicting the middle class, scrupulously avoiding all mention of problems arising from social inequality, exploitation of the workers, or the class struggle. The highlight of this period was the release of costume pseudohistorical films (A. Korda). Rather theatrical in their presentation, the films’ primary interest lay in their stars (V. Leigh, C. Laughton, and L. Olivier).
Documentarists increased their output in the 1930’s, truthfully depicting the work of people from various professions. But even they did not pose acute social questions in their works— for example, J. Grierson’s Drifters (1929) or Night Mail by B. Wright and H. Watt (1935). Particularly important were certain feature films of the late 1930’s that attempted to depict the life and work of simple people—for example, C. Reed’s Bank Holiday (1938) and The Stars Look Down (1940). The British documentarists prepared the way for fictionalized documentaries, which played a major role in wartime film-making in England—for example, In Which We Serve (1942; directed by N. Coward and D. Lean), San Demetrio, London (1943; directed by C. Frend), Millions Like Us (1943; directed by F. Launder and S. Gilliat), and We Die at Dawn (1943; directed by A. Asquith). But in the final year of the war, chamber dramas and psychological detective movies became the most popular genres.
The most significant achievements of this period in bourgeois film-making belong to the French cinema, whose best works were distinguished by poetic representations of life, psychologically profound characterizations, authentic backgrounds, and experimentation with new expressive means. Democratic tendencies were evident in the films of the outstanding French directors R. Clair (Sous les Toits de Paris, 1930, A Nous la Liberté!, 1933, and The Last Billionaire, 1934), J. Vigo (Zéro de Conduite, 1932, and L’Atalante, 1934), J. Feyder, M. Carné, and particularly J. Renoir (La Vie est à nous, 1936, Grand Illusion, 1937, and La Marseillaise, 1938). Such tendencies were characteristic of film-making in German-occupied France as well, when M. Carné, L. Daquin, J. Grémillon, and J. Becker, often resorting to Aesopian language, expressed the freedom-loving traditions of the French people in their films.
MODERN FILMS. The fourth period in the history of filmmaking, which began in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s, is characterized by the success of national cinema in countries that took the socialist path and by the first achievements of many newly independent African and Asian states and several Latin American countries. The complex processes of ideological struggle were reflected in the films of the capitalist states of Western Europe and the USA. The influence of revolutionary Soviet cinema on progressive film-makers increased sharply. The films of capitalist countries graphically reflected the struggle of two ideologies. The growth of a new medium of mass communication—television—stimulated the motion-picture industry to develop color, widescreen, and widegauge films, but in most capitalist countries television led to a decline in film production and a reduction in the motion-picture network.
The ideas of the democratic antifascist front in Italy gave birth to a new direction, neorealism, which influenced film-making in many other countries. The best neorealist films of R. Rossellini (Open City, 1945, and Paisan, 1946), L. Visconti (La Terra Trema, 1948), V. De Sica (The Bicycle Thief, 1948, and Umberto D, 1951), and G. De Santis (Bitter Rice, 1949) sensitively and accurately depicted the struggle against fascism and the class solidarity among workers in the postwar ruins. However, a series of internal and external causes led to a crisis in neorealistic art in the mid-1950’s. The problem of noncommunication and man’s alienation in modern capitalist society is a central theme in the work of such leading Italian directors as F. Fellini, M. Antonioni, and P. P. Pasolini. They frequently concentrate on the individualistic, and often pathological, emotions of their protagonists. Young directors who are continuing the progressive traditions of Italian cinema include G. Pontecorvo, F. Rosi, and E. Petri.
Film-making in France has developed in a similar way. The first postwar decade saw films by R. Clément (Battle on the Rails, 1946, and Forbidden Games, 1952), L. Daquin (Dawn, 1949), J. Becker (Antoine et Antoinette, 1947), J.-P. Le Chanois (Address Unknown, 1951), and Christian-Jaque (Race for Life, 1955). Most of the films were devoted to members of the Resistance or the life of simple people with its burdens and cares.
The most important movement in French films of the late 1950’s was the New Wave (nouvelle vague), a group of directors of highly divergent ideological trends. Some of its representatives, like A. Resnais, continued to develop to some extent the humanist traditions of French cinema; F. Truffaut and C. Chabrol, on the other hand, concerned themselves with the noncommunication and estrangement of people in bourgeois society; and J.-L. Godard approached social problems from an anarchist or Maoist point of view. The most consistent expression of progressive French tendencies is found in the documentaries of C. Marker and F. Rossif.
Documentarists also enriched British film-making. The Free Cinema group appeared as a protest against commercial motion pictures that were remote from life. L. Anderson and K. Reisz, its founders, made documentaries that reflected the daily lives of working people and occasionally raised acute social questions. The group disbanded, but some of its members went on to make feature films, which expressed the mood of the “angry young men”—for example, Reisz’ Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), T. Richardson’s Look Back in Anger (1958) and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962), and L. Anderson’s This Sporting Life (1963). A traditional direction of British film-making, screen versions of dramatic works, was continued by a series of films by L. Olivier, including Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1957).
In Sweden, I. Bergman became the most important director. His work explores contemporary ethical problems and contains the contradictory elements of Protestant morality, existential ideas, and naturalistic depictions of intimate acts and emotions. B. Viderberg’s work is characterized by an interest in the pressing social problems of our times.
The crisis in US film-making, which began in the late 1940’s, brought about a sharp reduction in production and a change in film content by the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. While continuing to release the traditional supercolossal motion pictures—overblown pseudohistorical epics—the American cinema changed its approach to contemporary reality in the USA. Hushing up the tragic contradictions of a “prosperous society” was no longer possible. But in depicting these contradictions, the racism, the anarchic rebellion of young people, and the growth of crime, addiction, and sexual perversion, US films tend to view the problems from a Freudian approach: as though they were caused by man’s innate depravity and not by social conditions. Only the work of a few directors contains critical elements—for example, S. Kramer, S. Kubrick, A. Penn, N. Jewison, S. Pollak, and F. Perry.
Japan’s defeat in World War II strengthened anti-imperialist progressive tendencies and created better conditions for advanced Japanese film-makers to combat the dictates of the motion-picture monopolies. Progressive social and anitwar themes are central to the work of K. Mizoguchi, K. Kinoshita, I. Shindo, T. Imai, S. Yamamoto, A. Kurosawa, N. Oshima, and H. Teshigahara. A. Kurosawa’s work is most significant: his films (Rashomon, 1950) are imbued with profound humanism and are distinguished by polished form, original scripts, and directorial skill.
The growth of national consciousness in Latin America was accompanied by growth in the film industry. Film-makers in Mexico, Brazil, and Peru have made great progress and now work in genres inimical to the Hollywood products they once imitated. The achievements of the young industry in Cuba, particularly in documentaries, are remarkable. India, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Iran are producing their first successful films. The motion-picture industry is growing in Africa (Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, and Rhodesia).
In the early postwar years in the USSR, the desire to universalize and portray the historic experience of the Soviet people led film-makers to an allegorical and didactic interpretation of the war. But the best films of this period—for example, A Village Schoolteacher (directed by M. S. Donskoi; screenplay by M. N. Smirnova; 1947), The Scout’s Exploit (directed by B. V. Barnet; screenplay by M. Iu. Bleiman, K. F. Isaev, and M. B. Makliarskii; 1947), and Young Guard (directed by S. A. Gerasimov; based on the A. A. Fadeev novel; 1948)—were distinguished by a profound insight into the protagonists, a wealth of accurate observations, and a consistent development of the principles of socialist realism.
The late 1950’s was a period of tremendous growth for Soviet film-making and of great success for young directors of the other socialist countries. The development of film-making in the fraternal Union republics was noteworthy, particularly the work of G. M. Seidbeili and A. M. Ibragimov (Azerbaijan), E. A. Karamian, S. A. Kevorkov, F. V. Dovlatian, and S. I. Paradzhanov (Armenia), I. M. Dobroliubov and V. T. Turov (Byelorussia), T. E. Abuladze, O. Sh. Ioseliani, R. D. Chkheidze, G. N. Shengelaia, and E. N. Shengelaia (Georgia), Sh. K. Aimanov and M. S. Begalin (Kazakhstan), T. Okeev and B. T. Shamshiev (Kirgizia), L. Ia. Leimanis and G. N. Piesis (Latvia), R. A. Babalas and V. P žalakevičius (Lithuania), V. G. Gazhiu and E. V. Lotianu (Moldavia), B. A. Kimiagarova (Tadzhiki-stan), B. B. Mansurov and Kh. K. Narliev (Turkmenia), Sh. S. Abbasov, E. M. Ishmukhamedov, and L. A. Faiziev (Uzbekistan), V. I. Ivchenko, Iu. G. Il’enko, and T. V. Levchuk (Ukraine), and K. K. Kiisk and J. Müür (Estonia).
One of the most significant aspects of the modern Soviet cinema is the desire of film-makers to reaffirm the new socialist morality through a detailed exploration of the characters and relationships of people as they work and live. This desire found expression in such films on contemporary themes as The Big Family (1954, I. E. Kheifits, based on the novel by V. A. Kochetov), Poem of a Sea (1958; directed by Iu. I. Solntseva; screenplay by A. P. Dovzhenko), Nine Days in One Year (1962; directed by M. I. Romm; screenplay by D. Ia. Khrabrovitskii), Chairman (1965; directed by A. A. Saltykov; screenplay by Iu. M. Nagibin), Nobody Wanted to Die (1965; directed by V. P. žalakevičius), Your Contemporary (1968; directed by Iu. Ia. Raizman; screenplay by E. I. Gabrilovich), Let’s Live Til Monday (1969; directed by S. I. Rodtotskii; screenplay by G. I. Polonskii), By the Lake (1970; direction and screenplay by S. A. Gerasimov), The Beginning (1971; directed by G. A. Panfilov; screenplay by E. I. Gabrilovich and Panfilov), Byelorussian Station (1971; directed by A. S. Smirnov; screenplay by V. V. Trunin), To Love a Man (1972; direction and screenplay by S. A. Gerasimov), and Taming Fire (1972; direction and screenplay by D. Ia. Khrabrovitskii).
The many films devoted to the Great Patriotic War, through their characterizations of rank-and-file soldiers, show the high moral and political qualities of the Soviet people, who crushed the fascist aggressors and successfully defended the independence of their homeland,—for example, The Cranes Are Flying (1957; directed by M. K. Kalatozov; screenplay by V. S. Rozov), The House I Live In (1957; directed by L. A. Kulidzhanov and Ia. A. Segel’; screenplay by I. G. Ol’shanskii), Ballad of a Soldier (1959; directed by G. N. Chukhrai; screenplay by V. I. Ezhov), A Man’s Fate (1959; directed by S. F. Bondarchuk; based on the short story by M. A. Sholokhov), Father of a Soldier (1965; directed by R. D. Chkheidze; screenplay by S. I. Zhgenti), and White Bird With Black Markings (1971; directed by Iu. G. Il’enko; screenplay by Il’enko and I. V. Mikolaichuk).
Soviet film-makers did not limit themselves to depicting the Patriotic War through the fates of individuals and created a four-part film of epic scope that showed the war’s most important events: Liberation (1970–71; directed by Iu. N. Ozerov; screenplay by G. Ia. Baklanov and O. I. Kurganov). L. A. Kulidzhanov’s Blue Notebook (1964; based on the story by E. G. Kazakevich) and S. I. Iutkevich’s Lenin in Poland (1966; screen-play by E. I. Gabrilovich) took a new approach to depicting Lenin on screen by capturing the profundity of his thought. The desire to delve into the ideological and political sources of the exploits of the Soviet people is characteristic of the best modern Soviet films devoted to the Civil War of 1918–20: Pavel Korchagin (1957; based on the novel How the Steel Was Tempered by N. A. Ostrovskii; directed by A. A. Alov and V. N. Naumov), Communist (1958; directed by Iu. Ia. Raizman; screenplay by E. I. Gabrilovich), and The First Teacher (based on the story by Ch. Aitmatov, 1965: directed by A. S. Konchalovskii).
Soviet film-making also made significant contributions to putting world and Russian classics and works of Soviet literature on the screen—for example, Shakespeare (Othello, 1956, directed by S. I. Iutkevich, and Hamlet, 1964, and King Lear, 1971, both directed by G. M. Kozintsev), T. G. Shevchenko (The Dream, 1964, directed by V. T. Denisenko), L. N. Tolstoy (War and Peace, 1966–67, directed by S. F. Bondarchuk), A. P. Chekhov (The Featherhead, 1956, directed by S. I. Samsonov, and Lady with the Dog, 1960, directed by I. E. Kheifits), M. M. Kotsiubinskii (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, 1965, directed by S. I. Paradzhanov), A. Tammsaare (New Devil From Hell, 1965, directed by J. Müür and G. E. Kromanov), A. N. Tolstoi (Road to Calvary, 1957–59, directed by G. L. Roshal’), and M. A. Sholokhov (The Quiet Don, 1957–58, directed by S. A. Gerasimov).
The modern period of Soviet documentary films was heralded by the appearance of Tale of the Caspian Oil-field Workers (1953, directed by R. L. Karmen), which revealed the processes of the development of Soviet society through labor and the relationships among people who extract for their country the wealth hidden under the sea. Katiusha (1964, directed by V. P. Lisakovich; screenplay by S. S. Smirnov) is a brilliant example of depicting reality through a documentary portrait of an exemplary Soviet citizen.
The greatest achievement of Soviet publicistic documentaries is Ordinary Fascism (1966; directed by M. I. Romm; screenplay by M. I. Turovskaia and Iu. M. Khaniutin), a harsh indictment of Hitlerism created from archival stock footage. The struggle with imperialism is developed in the films of R. L. Karmen (Flaming Continent, 1972) and A. I. Medvedkin. The Georgian director and cameraman G. I. Asatiani creates fascinating films about his travels in foreign countries. The documentaries of Latvia, Kirghizia, and other Union republics are characterized by a sensitive portrayal of Soviet reality. Many documentaries treat the achievements of Soviet science and technology in conquering space.
The subject matter of educational films was broadened to incude the trilogy Lenin’s Manuscripts, The Party’s Banner, and Lenin: The Final Pages (1960–63; directed by F. A. Tiapkin; screenplay by G. E. Fradkin). Many films popularize achievements in physics, biology, medicine, and history, and others depict the lives of leading figures in literature and the arts. R. M. Sobolev’s films are talented presentations of natural scientific information in popular form.
An original Soviet school of animation developed, incorporating elements of folk literature and art, classical and Soviet children’s literature, and book illustrations. Aimed primarily at young audiences, the films of Soviet animators are beloved by children of all nations. Well-known Soviet animators include L. K. Atamanov, V. S. Brumberg, Z. S. Brumberg, V. D. Degtiarev, B. T. Dezhkin, I. P. Ivanov-Vano, R. A. Kachanov, A. G. Karanovich, E. A. Tuganov, F. S. Khitruk, V. D. Bakhtadze, V. V. Kurchevskii, N. N. Serebriakov, and B. P. Stepantsev.
In the other socialist countries this is a period of ideological growth for established film-makers, mastery of advanced national artistic traditions, and intensive creative exploration. Poland has made remarkable strides, paticularly in the work of A. Munk, A. Wajda, J. Kawalerowicz, W. Has, K. Kutz, T. Konwicki, and K. Zanussi, who are developing the romantic traditions of Polish art. These directors, who were participants or witnesses of the struggle of the Polish people with the fascist aggressors, often turn to the events of the war years in their films, posing questions of real versus seeming patriotism and man’s responsibility to his homeland.
Czech film-making blossomed: both the older generation—M. Frié, J. Weiss, and O. Vavra—and the younger—K. Zeman, Š. Uher, and V. Jasny, who began directing after World War II. J. Trnka used puppets to create a national heroic epic on the patriotic traditions of his people. Trnka’s best works are also popular outside Czechoslovakia.
Film-making in the German Democratic Republic leans on the democratic traditions of the national literature and cinema of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Many films by K. Maetzig, S. Dudow, F. Beyer, K. Wolf, and G. Reisch deal with the revolutionary struggle of the German working class and the party, the exposure of the inhuman ideology of National Socialism, the proper understanding of World War II, and the depiction of the struggle of the workers, peasants, and intellectuals of the GDR for socialism. The documentarist-publicists Andrew and Annelie Thorndike, W. Heynowski, and H. Scheumann are notable film-makers.
In Hungary, the directors Z. Fábri, F. Máriássy, M. Keleti, I. Szabó, M. Jancsó, and A. Kovacs deal with significant events in Hungary’s history and uncompromisingly raise biting questions about contemporary life and the formation of the modern personality.
The Bulgarian directors Z. Zhandov, R. Vylchanov, B. Zheliazkova, and T. Dinov are concerned primarily with the heroic struggle against the fascist aggressors and with socialist construction. Bulgarian cinema devotes much attention to screen versions of classics of the national literature.
Major Rumanian directors include L. Ciulei, M. Dragan, and A. Blaier. J. Popescu-Gopo has developed an original type of film parable and proverb in his animated short features.
World War II and contemporary life in Yugoslavia are central to the works of V. Mimica and P. Georgijevie. The films most popular outside Yugoslavia belong to the Zagreb school of animation, whose foremost director is D. Vukotiö. Some Yugoslav films reveal the influence of the existentialism popular in the West and occasionally of surrealism.
The film-makers of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Korean People’s Democratic Republic, and the Mongolian People’s Republic strive to portray life in their countries accurately.
Contrasting forces and tendencies clash in film-making as they do in other arts. Under the capitalist system, despite the variety of styles and political, philosophical, and aesthetic positions of the directors that reflect reality in varying degrees, film-making is subject to pressure from the ruling circles and is dependent on producers and the taste of the bourgeois public.
Standing in juxtaposition to bourgeois cinema, which is permeated with a lack of faith in man and his future, are the best films of the socialist countries, impressive in their truthful depictions of life and lofty humanism, the films of progressive foreign directors imbued with protest against the capitalist system and with love for people of labor, and the work of young film-makers from the developing countries.
S. S. GINZBURG
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