films and news chronicles were shown in Russia at the end of the
19th century. After the turn of the century Russian cinematography
grew rapidly, and some 2,000 films were produced before World War
revolution brought about a reorganization of national cinema
prompted by the Bolsheviks’ realization of the unmatched potential
of film as a means of political propaganda. In 1919 Russia’s film
industry was nationalized and, initially, most of its output were
news chronicles and documentaries.
In the 1920s
Russian cinema revived and acquired a worldwide reputation,
primarily as a result of the work of Vsevolod Pudovkin, Sergei
Eisenstein, and Alexander Dovzhenko. These outstanding directors
produced such film classics as Battleship Potemkin, October,
The Mother, and The Land.
Toward the end of the 1920s new, well-equipped studios were built,
and a large network of film theaters was constructed.
However, it was during the Stalin period especially, when Soviet
directors came under the increasing pressure from the Communist
Party to produce politically correct films, and Soviet cinema was
largely transformed into a propaganda instrument. The 1930s are
notable for the appearance of idealized stories of the Bolshevik
struggle against their opponents during the revolution and the civil
war (for example, Chapayev by the Vasilyev brothers) and
“feel-good” musicals showing the happy life of workers and peasants
under the Soviet regime (Grigory Alexandrov’s Jolly Fellows
and Ivan Pyriev’s Tractor Drivers).
the coming of World War II Soviet cinema redirected its efforts to
create documentary films and newscasts. After the end of the war,
the state-initiated campaigns against cosmopolitanism and the
tightening of censorship had a negative impact on further
development of art, until the death of Stalin and the beginning of