One of the most fascinating things about history is how it affects the culture and customs of the generations of that time and the generations to come. The Revolutions of 1917 in Russia embarked on a cultural transformation that affected millions of people throughout Eastern Europe and Northern Asia and still affects them to this day.
The revolutions marked an end to Imperial Russian culture, which resulted in the destruction of thousands of churches, monuments, and building to be replaced with Soviet style building and monuments.
This transformation however is more deeply rooted than just in the stylistic approach to architecture. The changes in terms of culture and ideology can be found physically emulated in the cinematic approaches depicted within the Soviet Union.
In the early years of the Bolshevik rule many movie stars and directors fled the country due to them being unable to conform to the Soviet Society. One such star was Vera Kholodnaya, she was considered to be the most famous Russian actress of the Silent Film Era. Starring in as many as 50 films, Kholodnaya died in 1925 while fleeing from the Bolsheviks. With her death it is considered the end of an era. Not just an era of cinema but the era of a culture.(Geldern)
One of the first films that emulates the ideologies set in place by the Revolution is “Battleship Potemkin”. A film by Sergei Eisenstein, “Battleship Potemkin” takes place during the Revolution of 1905. Mutiny occurs on a the ship Potemkin against the officers, after the crew was fed raw meat. This film serves to portray such marxist ideals such as the revolution of the proletariat .While history tells us the revolution of 1905 was a failure, the film depicts a successful outcome, which begins the use of cinema as a means of political propaganda.
The film “Circus” further depicts ideologies set by the Revolution which are the inclusivity of everyone regardless of race, class, or nationality. The basis of the film resides on an American woman who seeks refuge in the USSR due to her having a child with an African American man. The last scene of the movie beautifully captures this idea by the audience members of the Circus all singing a lullaby to the child.
The ironically named film “The Vanished Empire”, directed by Karen Shaknazorov, tells a story about teenage life within the Soviet Union. While a more recent film it focuses on the affects the soviet union had on the people of Russia. Even though during the movie all of the characters are scene listening to American music and purchasing American clothing via the black market. In the end the characters long for the Soviet Union and all of its ideals.
In one scene, the main character of The Vanished Empire” travels to Iran to view this once great empire that is now deteriorating.
Now today anyone can gaze at the fallen empire of the Soviet Union. It is not to say however that the ideas and culture of the revolution have gone missing. They live on within the former inhabitants of the Soviet Union.
Geldern, James von. Culture and Revolution. Retrieved from http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/culture-and-revolution/
Geldern, James von. Death of the Old Culture. Retrieved from: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/death-of-the-old-culture/