Dmitri N. Shalin

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The cinema has always been subject to keen scrutiny by Russia's rulers. As early as the beginning of this century Russia's last czar, Nikolai Romanov, attempted to nationalize this new and, in his view, threatening medium: "I have always insisted that these cinema-booths are dangerous institutions. Any number of bandits could commit God knows what crimes there, yet they say the people go in droves to watch all kinds of rubbish; I don't know what to do about these places." The plan for a government monopoly over cinema, which would ensure control of production and consumption and thereby protect the Russian people from moral ruin, was passed along to the Duma not long before the February revolution of 1917. However, it was ultimately carried out in 1919 by the same Bolsheviks who had executed Romanov, and Vladimir Lenin formulated one of the Communist Party's political postulates in regard to cinema by announcing it to be, in 1922, "the most important of all the arts." Yet it was truly made the most important medium of the new society by Joseph Stalin, who expressed this almost metaphysical conviction in 1924: "Film is an illusion, but it dictates its laws to life."


Communism and motion pictures; Film criticism; History; Motion pictures; Russian; Motion pictures; Soviet


Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Slavic Languages and Societies