In the next five weeks, Prospekt Magazine will take you on a cinematic time travel with five reviews of popular Soviet tragicomedies.
First, an iconic director will take us to the Caucasus circa 1967. Our next stop will be a departure from the Soviet ideals of the kolkhoz in a crumbling 1980s village. Then we will spend a day wandering through 1940’s Moscow before flying back to St. Petersburg to ring in the New Year — in 1975! Our voyage will end around the same period, in the company of four lovable brigands because Cinema is nothing without a good villain.
Outside of Russia, the USSR is almost exclusively portrayed as the grim land of Communism. The highlight is on the negative fragments of history — the Great Purge, the gulags, Stalin — which accurate as they are, tell a one-sided story. One that omits the less sensationalist experiences of everyday living.
The aim of the Soviet Movie Review is to put a human face on a country still wrapped in mystery; and judging from the sheer number of its comedic directors, Soviet audiences loved a good laugh. The popularity of the genre alone proves, if nothing else, that they had a sense of humour about themselves.
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