Russian Cinema Before the Revolution Part II

By | February 22, 2022

According to topschoolsintheusa, the first interesting discussions on cinema by writers and artists of various disciplines, and the birth of the first cinematographic theories, also date back to this period. The idea of ​​cinema as a potential new art of the twentieth century aroused indignation or enthusiasm, especially among those who worked for a radical transformation of theatrical art; Leonid N. Andreev in Pis′ma o teatre (1912 and 1914, Letters on the theater) exhorted the theater to abandon any realistic or plausible ambitions, leaving them to the cinema to which they seemed so connatural, to push instead towards the search for new and more effective means expressive. Andreev, to whom we owe the nickname for cinema of “Velikij nemoj” (The Great Silent), was also the first Russian writer to be creatively interested in it, writing screenplays and collaborating with directors. Many other writers followed his example, welcomed with enthusiasm by Russian and foreign producers, since the collaboration with the cinema of famous authors in Germany, France and Italy had led to the production of masterpieces such as Quo vadis? (1913) by Enricoo Guazzoni or Cabiria (1914) by Giovanni Pastrone. All this determined the birth of the film script as a true literary genre, practiced in Russia by famous writers at the time; with the Pathé collaborated: Anatolij P. Kamenskij, Michail P. Arcybaščev, Semën S. Juškevič; with the Chanžonkov production: Arkadij T. Averčenko, Osip Dimov, Fëdor Sologub (pseudonym of FK Teternikov), Aleksandr V. Amfiteatrov, Evgenij N. Čirikov, Aleksandr I. Kuprin and Leonid N. Andreev.

After 1912 the attitude of theater directors towards the cinema also changed dramatically. Vsevolod E. Mejerchol′d himself, who had been a violent detractor, had to change his mind to the point of personally making for Thiemann & Reinhardt, two experimental films now sadly lost, Portret Dorjana Graja (1915, The portrait of Dorian Gray) and Sil′nyj čelovek (1916, A strong man). Aleksandr Ja. Tairov, for his part, tried his hand at cinema by creating an interesting experiment in filmed pantomime, Mertvec (1915, The Dead), an unusual film, completely devoid of captions where these instead constituted an integral and essential part of the works normally distributed.

Little by little, Russian cinema, under the influence of Scandinavian, Danish, Italian and French production, concentrated on genres of bourgeois setting, abandoning for a while historical films, which had also been a conspicuous and characterizing part of the newborn national cinema.. Chanzonkov produced one of the last major historical films about Napoleon’s defeat in Russia, 1812 god (1912, The Year 1812), by Aleksandr A. Levitsky, a worthy successor to Oborona Sevastopolja. While in the West they aimed more and more at cinematic tricks, the speed of action and all sorts of spectacular procedures, in Russia the cinema, under the influence of realist theater and literature, instead developed the psychological drama, the inner deepening of the characters through slow-paced sequence shots full of dramatic tension with inevitably tragic endings (Silent witnesses, 1989, pp. 24-43). In producing its zolotaja serija (the golden series) Thiemann & Reinhardt drew inspiration from the pathetic drama of French origin, treated according to the Russian style, making a series of films directed, with Vladimir Russia Gardin, by the newcomer Jakov A. Protazanov, including Ključi sčast′ja (1913, The Keys to Happiness) which was the most successful pre-revolutionary film. Based on the best seller by Anastasija Verbickaja, and adapted by herself for the screen, the film required the various operators in the sector to strengthen their production strategies. Soviet avant-garde and futurism). This was the case, for example, of the first futurist film, made by Vladimir P. Kas′janov together with the group of avant-garde painters David D. Burlyuk, Mikhail F. Larionov and Natalija S. Gončarova, Drama v kabare futuristov n. 13 (Drama in Futurist Cabaret No. 13) made in 1913 but only released the following year. Vladimir V. Mayakovskij also made his debut in those years as an actor and screenwriter. 1913 was also the year of the tricentennial of the Romanov dynasty and cinema could not remain indifferent; Chanžonkov did not miss the opportunity and produced Vocarenie doma Romanovych (1613) (The tricentennial of the reign of the Romanov dynasty, 1613-1913), which however failed to beat the success of the first. This is how things went until the outbreak of the First World War in the summer of 1914. At the time, cinema had by now penetrated the daily habits of a large circle of people, its usefulness for both pedagogical and informational purposes and its possible use as a dangerous means of disseminating subversive ideas had been grasped all too well. or presumed to be so. Cinema was increasingly the subject of in-depth theoretical discussions, and in that year the first round table was organized by eminent artists and scholars such as Mejerchol′d, Jurij Ozarovskij, Baron Dresden, Vladimir Solov′ëv and Prince Sergej Volkonskij. on cinema.

Russian Cinema Before the Revolution 2