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International Film Styles: 1920s Soviet Cinema

jclarke | Friday March 08, 2013

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, FM4, Section A: World Cinema, Analysis, Film Analysis, Film History, Film Industry, Film Distribution, Production Companies, Films & Case Studies, World Cinema, Battleship Potemkin, Man With A Movie Camera, Genres & Case Studies, Documentary, Realism, Social Realism, Soviet Montage

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Cinema is always evolving.

The constantly changing quality of film styles is exciting and since the beginnings of film history many nations around the world have developed their own distinct cinematic style and this continues today in the twenty-first century.

During the early part of the twentieth century one country that contributed very significantly to the development of early cinema, was Russia and now, in 2013, almost a century later, the particular film style that emerged from Russia continues to be an essential stylistic approach that filmmakers continue to use in constructing their stories and manipulating the thoughts and feelings of audiences.

As always, it’s very important to understand the meanings, messages and values of any film as a text. We can enhance these understandings by also exploring some of the contexts from which a single film, or a group of films, was produced. Context always helps us understand text.

In this resource we’ll look at two examples of Russian cinema in terms of the film-style known as Soviet Montage.

Whilst one hundred years ago might seem like quite a long time ago with the brief history of movies, the Soviet Montage style continues to be used in all sorts of cinema, reminding us of how the older creative styles are often reworked and reinvented for new audiences.

Realism and Soviet Montage

The term Soviet Montage refers to an aspect of Russia’s national cinema and, in turn, aspects of its national identity. The film scholar Andrew Higson has written of national identity that it is term that is varied in its meanings. For our purposes let’s refer to his comment that “to identify a national cinema is first of all to specify a coherence and a unity; it is to proclaim a unique identity and a stable set of meanings.? [1]

Before we look more closely at two particular films that exemplify Soviet Montage, let’s clarify the definition of realism that is...


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