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Title: Soviet history in Thaw cinema : the making of new myths and truths
Author: Levitsky, D. L.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines the treatment of Soviet history in the cinema of the Thaw. It aims to show how Soviet filmmakers of the post-Stalin period strove to create a new master narrative in which Soviet history was represented and told in a fundamentally new way. Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’ redefined the image of the Soviet past, and thus reconfigured the messages concerning Soviet identity which were to be extrapolated from it. The cinematic Thaw in Soviet culture closely followed the model of this new defining narrative, which combined cultic celebration of the Soviet founder and the revolutionary foundational myth of the Soviet State with shocking, unprecedented iconoclasm and attacks upon Lenin’s previously deified successor. For the cinematic renaissance of the Thaw was not simply about the jettisoning of the subjects, practices, and professional relationships of the pre-1953 period, and their rapid replacement with new themes relating to contemporary life and wartime humanity. It was primarily concerned with the complex, often faltering process of injecting established themes and approaches with a new humanity and ‘truth-to-life’, and combining them with the depiction both of more realistic, engaging Soviet historical characters, and of particularly damaging, difficult periods of the more recent Stalinist past. Like the ‘Secret Speech’, Thaw cinema principally looked neither to the present nor to the future, but to the past, both to a time of revolutionary heroism and to one of destructive ideological distortion, in an effort to find a new cinematic narrative which would be both celebratory and meaningful. Soviet cinema during the Thaw was thus defined by its new use and portrayal of subjects which were familiar to Soviet audiences, both from their cinema-going and real-life experience, and it was in this pioneering synthesis of historical myth and truth where the tremendous popularity of Thaw-era Soviet cinema truly lay.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available