If Americans ever think about Soviet cinema, they either imagine dreary propaganda films or remember world-class avant-garde directors like Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky. Some Soviet movies were indeed dismal propaganda, and more than a few were cinematic masterpieces (usually the ones in trouble with the censorship). There was, however, another world of Soviet movies—the pictures that ordinary movie-goers actually liked. More often than not, these popular films were infected with the disease of “Americanitis” (amerikanshchina); that is, they were strongly influenced by Hollywood style. This talk traces the ebb and flow of the cinematic Americanism that was evident in Soviet cinema even during its darkest hours, providing a unique lens through which to view Soviet society and culture over the course of more than 70 years.
The Dean’s Lecture Series celebrates College of Arts and Sciences faculty who are acclaimed scholars or artists and who translate that knowledge into stimulating teaching.