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Baraban, Elena V.

The Cold War and the Soviet Discourse of WWII in Cinema

In this paper I examine the impact of the Cold War on Soviet films about WWII. I will demonstrate how the Cold War contributed to shaping the Soviet discourse of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).

Unlike in the USA, Soviet film industry did not develop a distinct Cold War film genre. Instead, the Cold War problematic became dispersed across traditional film genres: films about WWII, comedies, and dramas.

War film was the first Soviet film genre to respond to the Cold War. In films of the Stalin era (“Stalingradskaia bitva” (1949) by Petrov, “Padenie Berlina” (1949) by Chiaureli, “U nikh est Rodina” (1949) by Legoshin and Mikhailovich, and “Vstrecha na Elbe” (1949) by Aleksandrov, the allies were depicted as treacherous, mercantile, and as deliberately delaying the start of the allied invasion in Europe. The Cold War rhetoric used in Chiaureli’s “The Fall of Berlin” flourished in the films about the war released during the Thaw and in the Stagnation period. In particular, the phrase “for peace in the whole world” (voiced in Chiaureli’s film by Stalin) became symbolic of the Soviet asymmetric response to “the Cold War.” The latter was presented in the USSR as being waged by the West while the USSR was doing everything possible for maintaining peace. Through examining such productions as “Mir vkhodiashchemu” (1961) by Alov and Naumov, “Obysknovennyi fashizm” (1965) by Romm, “17-i transatlanticheskii” (1971) by Kott, and “17 mgnovenii vesny” by Lioznova I will demonstrate how the Soviet “struggle for peace” defined the depiction of Soviet allies as treacherous, self-serving, smug, and vulgar. Thanks to such productions, the myth of the war was consolidated over the years while the question “Who won the war against Hitler?” was answered unambiguously.

Friday 30 Oct 16.15-18.15 SESSION 6
Panel: On the Big Screen: Cinema in the Cold War II