Carnegie Mellon University

Russian Cinema: From the Bolshevik Revolution to Putin's Russia

Course Number: 82-293

Last night I was in the kingdom of shadows, said the writer Maxim Gorky in 1896 after seeing a film for the first time. How terrifying to be there Early film inspired fear and fascination in its Russian audiences, and before long became a medium of bold aesthetic and philosophical experimentation. This seminar-style course surveys the development of Russian and Soviet film, paying equal attention to the formal evolution of the medium and the circumstances, historical, cultural, institutional, that shaped it. We will examine Sergei Eisensteins and Dziga Vertovs experiments with montage in light of the events of the Bolshevik Revolution and the directors engagement with Marxism; Georgi Alexandrovs and the Vasiliev brothers Socialist Realist production against the backdrop of Stalinist censorship; Andrei Tarkovskys and Kira Muratovas Thaw-era films within the broader context of New Wave Cinema; and the works of contemporary directors, including Aleksei Balabanov, Alexander Sokurov, and Andrey Zvyagintsev, in connection with the shifting social and political landscape of post-Soviet Russia. Besides introducing students to the Russian and Soviet cinematic tradition, this course will hone their skills in close visual analysis. No prior knowledge of Russian language or culture is required. The course is conducted in English, but students will have the option to do work in Russian for three extra course units.

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Units: VAR
Prerequisite(s): None