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Friday, April 07, 2017

Mikhail Romm, His Movies About Lenin

Ленин в 1918 году, Михаил Ромм, 1939
в роли Ленина – Борис Щукин
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended

when a viewer chooses a film made in the times of Stalin, he should be ready for the ideological pathos that it will most surely contain; if one is able to either treat it with condescension, attributing much to the time, or to keep in mind a vivid image of the historical period and try to imagine himself in the place of the original viewers, he is bound to be in for an immensely pleasant experience; if not, it would be better to completely avoid early Soviet cinema - for the sake of not labeling as bad something that has simply not been fully understood (recordaras)

a well-known and able filmmaker who managed to make intelligent work like this even under the constraints of Stalinism (mikebailey823)

Along the years Mikhail Romm had to come back and rework his movies about Lenin several times, as the heroes exalted sometime by the Soviet propaganda were suddenly becoming the villains to be erased from history. In the 30's Romm had to exclude from the footage the figure of any of the bolsheviks condemned throughout the Stalinist purges - and especially to present Stalin as the closest companion of Lenin (regardless of how close or loose had actually been everything). Later, in the 60's, Romm had to revisit the footage and shrink the size of Stalin as much as he could. And Mikhail Romm did very carefully his job each time. They were propaganda movies, and that's expected from a propaganda movie, to keep in line.

Thus, if you want to understand what really happened in Russia in 1917-1918, forget about. Or maybe you will understand something else, the way the Soviet society of the thirties was getting the Stalinist version of the story. But, if you are interested in movie art, you will understand the fine quality of the filmmaker who was Mikhail Romm. His movies about Lenin have no connection with what really happened. Just propaganda. Still, they build a cinematographic universe, fake of course, while extremely humane and extremely convincing. Mikhail Romm had a superb grasp of the small details of life, those small details that fill our existence. It was his immense experience acquired during the Civil War years, as he traveled throughout Russia all azimuths, and knew a lot of people facing a lot of situations. And these two propaganda movies are full of these small details, thus no wonder that behind what's told on the screen you feel some untold stories about anonymous men and women who had happened to live in those years and for better or worse had happened to make things happen.

(Mikhail Romm)



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