The golden age of Soviet cinema, in the years following the Russian Revolution, was a time of both achievement and contradiction, as reflected in the films of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Kuleshov. Tensions ran high between creative freedom and institutional constraint, radical and reactionary impulses, popular and intellectual cinema, and film as social propaganda and as personal artistic expression. In less than a decade, the creative ferment ended, subjugated by the ideological forces that accompanied the rise of Joseph Stalin and the imposition of the doctrine of Socialist Realism on all the arts.
Soviet Cinema in the Silent Era, 1918–1935 records this lost golden age. Denise Youngblood considers the social, economic, and industrial factors that influenced the work of both lesser-known and celebrated directors. She reviews all major and many minor films of the period, as well as contemporary film criticism from Soviet film journals and trade magazines. Above all, she captures Soviet film in a role it never regained—that of dynamic artform of the proletarian masses.
Preface to the Paperback Edition
1. Beginnings (1918–23)
2. The Turning Point (1924)
3. The New Course: Sovkino Policy and Industry Response (1925–26)
4. Filmmaking and Films (1925–26)
5. Sovkino under Fire (1927–28)
6. The Crisis in Production (1927–28)
7. The Party Conference and the Attempt to Restructure (1928–29)
8. The Purge Years and the Struggle against Formalism (1929–34)
9. The Advent of Sound and the Triumph of Realism (1928–35)
Appendix 1. Film Production by Studio by Year (1918–35)
Appendix 2. Genres by Year
Denise J. Youngblood, a former executive director of the Associationfor the Advancement of Soviet Studies, is Professor of Historyat the University of Vermont.
"Denise J. Youngblood’s informative study . . . offers a striking assessment of film’s role as the ‘dynamic art form of the proletarian masses’ in the years following the 1917 Russian revolution. The book reviews the work of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Kuleshov and other Soviet filmmakers in a comprehensive coverage of an intensely creative period."
"Denise Youngblood is a pioneer. On the basis of having seen every available Soviet silent film and read all existing film journals, [she] successfully describes the problems and debates that occupied Soviet film people in the golden age."
—Canadian-American Slavic Studies