Chapter 1. History of the censorship
Chapter 2. Censorship in film industry of the USSR.
1.Katherine Eaton Enemies of the People: The Destruction of Society Literary, Theatre & Film Arts in the 1930's. Evanston: Northwestern Uni Press 2002.
2.Marianna Choldin & Maurice Friedberg The Red Pencil: Artists, Scholars, and Censors in the USSR. Boston: Unwin Hyman 1989
3.Mette Newth. The long history of censorship. Norway. 2001. // Электронный ресурс, режим доступа: http://www.beaconforfreedom.org/about_project/history.html
4.Блюм А. В. За кулисами «Министерства правды». Тайная история советской цензу-ры, 1917—1929. — СПб.: Академический проект, 1994. 320 с.
5.Блюм А. В. Советская цензура в эпоху тотального террора. 1929-1953. СПб.: Ака-демический проект, 2000. 283 с.
6.Жирков Г. В. История цензуры в России XIX—XX вв. М.: Аспект пресс, 2001. 358 с.
Показать всеветской политической цензуры. Документы и комментарии / Состави-тель Т. М. Горяева. М.: Российская политическая энциклопедия, 1997. 672 с.
8.Мир и фильмы Андрея Тарковского / Сост. А.М. Сандлер. - М.: Искусство, 1991, с. 382-386
9.Новейшая история отечественного кино. 1986-2000. Кино и контекст. Т. IV. СПб, Сеанс, 2002
10.Энциклопедия отечественного кино. СССР/СНГ / Под. Ред. Л. Аркус. М. 2006-2009. // Электронный ресурс, режим доступа: http://russiancinema.ru/ Скрыть
1.2. The Russian empire, having a long tradition of strict censorship, was slow to undergo the changes that central European countries had passed a century before. Censorship reforms were started in a single decade of tolerance, from 1855 to 1865 during the reign of tsar Alexander II, when the transition was made from legislation on pre-censorship to the punitive system based on legal responsibility . During the decade, the press enjoyed greater freedom and more radical ideas were voiced, thus censorship laws were re-imposed in 1866, practically eliminating the basic ideas of the reform. Only half a century later, pre-censorship was abrogated in the law of 1905-1906. Finally, all censorship were abolished in the decrees dated April 27, 1917 issued by the Temporary Government. However,
Показать всеthe freedom was short lived. The decrees were only in force until October 1917. Then a new, long and extensive era of strict censorship began, now executed by the revolutionary rulers of the USSR, lasting until the end of the 1980s. Taking into account the long history of strict censorship during tsar-regimes, the Russian people have only been without formal censorship in the last decade of this millennium .
The new order of the USSR meant drastic political and economic changes, but also the areas of culture, education and religion were subject to revolutionary changes, all with the idealistic intentions of relieving the new Soviet citizen of the suppressive yokes of feudalism. Hence religion, regarded as gross and misleading superstition, was targeted only a few months after the revolution. In the spring of 1918, a decree was issued formally separating church from state, followed by strict prohibitions imposed on religious bodies along with nationalisation of all church property. In 1922, the central censorship office was established, known for short as Glavlit. Aiming to purge the Soviet society of all expressions regarded as destructive to the new order and contagious to the minds of people, the Glavlit had absolute authority to subject the performing arts and all publications to preventive censorship, and suppress political dissidence by shutting down "hostile" newspapers [5,6]. However, in the early 1920s during the time of Lenin and Trotsky, writers and artists were granted creative freedom, provided they observed the rule of not engaging in overt political dissent. This leniency may be attributed to the regime’s recognition of the importance of intellectuals for the conveyance of the new ideals. Although the majority of intellectuals were opposed to the revolution, many artists and intellectuals supported the revolution’s ideals of equality for all and freedom from slavery and poverty. Also Russian artists had embraced the ideals of the European Modernist Movement, already in 1915 forming the visionary Avant Garde aesthetic movement, surviving until 1932. Thus, the first years of the new order saw a degree of innovation in literature and the arts, starkly contrasting to the overall political rigidity of the regime. All leniency was to end with the Stalin regime. Hence forward, the censorship system became all the more elaborate, and the methods of purging increasingly sinister; authorising printing, banning publications and preventing import of foreign books [8: 15].
Chapter 2. Censorship in film industry of the USSR.
2.1. The new state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, officially came into existence on December 30, 1922. From the outset, it was held that film would be the most ideal propaganda tool for the Soviet Union because of its mass popularity among the established citizenry of the new land; V. I. Lenin, in fact, declared it the most important medium for educating the masses in the ways, means and successes of Communism, a position which was later echoed by Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile, between World War I and the Russian Revolution, most of the film industry, and the general infrastructure needed to support it (e.g. electrical power), was in a shambles [5: 28].
The majority of cinemas had been in the corridor between Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia, and most were out of commission. Additionally, many of the performers, producers, directors and other artists of pre-Soviet Russia, had fled the country or were moving ahead of the Red Army forces as they pushed further and further south into the remainder of the Russian Empire. Furthermore, the new government did not have the funds to spare for an extensive reworking of the system of filmmaking. Thus, they initially opted for project approval and censorship guidelines while leaving what of the industry remained in private hands. As this amounted mostly to cinema houses, the first Soviet films consisted of recycled films of the Russian Empire and its imports, to the extent that these were not determined to be offensive to the new Soviet ideology. Ironically, the first new film released in Soviet Russia did not exactly fit this mold: this was Father Sergius, a religious film completed during the last weeks of the Russian Empire but not yet exhibited. It appeared on Soviet screens in 1918. [6: 58].
Beyond this, the government was principally able to fund only short, educational films, the most notorious of which were the agitki - propaganda films intended to "agitate", or energize and enthuse, the masses to participate fully in approved Soviet activities, and deal effectively with those who remained in opposition to the new order. These short (often one small reel) films were often simple visual aids and accompaniments to live lectures and speeches, and were carried from city to city, town to town, village to village (along with the lecturers) to indoctrinate the entire countryside, even reaching areas where film had not been previously seen.
Newsreels, as documentaries, were the other major form of earliest Soviet cinema. Dziga Vertov's newsreel series Kino-Pravda, the best known of these, lasted from 1922 to 1925 and had a propagandistic bent; Vertov used the series to promote socialist realism but also to experiment with cinema.
Still, in 1921, there was not one functioning cinema in Moscow until late in the year. Its rapid success, utilizing old Russian and imported feature films, jumpstarted the industry significantly, especially insofar as the government did not heavily or directly regulate what was shown, and by 1923 an additional 89 cinemas had opened. Despite extremely high taxation of ticket sales and film rentals, there was an incentive for individuals to begin making feature film product again - there were places to show the films - albeit they now had to conform their subject matter to a Soviet world view. In this context, the directors and writers who had remained in support of the objectives of Communism assumed quick dominance in the industry, as they were the ones who could most reliably and convincingly turn out films that would satisfy government censors. New talent joined the experienced remainder, and an artistic community assembled with the goal of defining "Soviet film" as something distinct and better from the output of "decadent capitalism". The leaders of this community viewed it essential to this goal to be free to experiment with the entire nature of film, a position which would result in several well-known creative efforts but would also result in an unforeseen counter-reaction by the increasingly solidifying administrators of the government-controlled society. [9: 8].
Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin was released to wide acclaim in 1925; the film was heavily fictionalized and also propagandistic, preaching the party line about the virtues of the proletariat. The party leaders soon found it difficult to control directors' expression, partly because definitive understanding of a film's meaning was elusive.
One of the most popular films released in the 1930s was Circus. Immediately after the end of the Second World War, color movies such as The Stone Flower (1946), Ballad of Siberia (1947), and The Kuban Cossacks (1949) were released. Other notable films from the 1940s include Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible.
Goskino is the abbreviated name for the USSR State Committee for Cinematography in the Soviet Union. It was the supreme government organs in charge of the cinematography. It was absorbed by the USSR Ministry of Culture in 1953 but became an independent organization again in 1963.
This organization performed both general management and censorship functions in Soviet Union film industry.
In the modern Russian Federation, the counterparts were Roskomkino and Roskultura. The presidents of Goskino
1963 - 1972 Alexei Romanov
1972 - 1986 Filipp Ermash .
In the late 1950s and early 1960s Soviet Cinema produced Ballad of a Soldier, which won the 1961 BAFTA Award for Best Film, and The Cranes Are Flying.
Height is considered to be one of the best films of the 1950s (it also became the foundation of the bard movement).
The 1980s saw a diversification of subject matter. Touchy issues could now be discussed openly. The results were films like Pokayanie (Repentance), which dealt with Stalinist repressions in Georgia, and the allegorical science fiction movie Kin-dza-dza!, which satirized the Soviet life in general.
2.2 Having done a thorough analysis [5, 6, 10] of the probable reasons which defined the censors' decisions to cut and ban films may be classified as following:
political reasons (criticism of the Soviet Union, CPSU, Soviet regime, particular political bodies and figures);
political unreliability (temporary or permanent) of an artist, whose work was the subject of the publication;
political unreliability (temporary or permanent) of an author of a publication;
mentioning an unreliable person, unworthy fact or event in the text unless it was criticized (possible cuttings of the text or plates);
generally prohibited subject (for instance: unofficial Soviet art);
propaganda of fascism, violence or terror (horror films belonged to that category);
pornography (a magic word - none of the censors could ever give a distinct definition of this term in their special vocabulary; the most frequent reason for art publications to become banned as most of the artists, since the ancient times, had made the studies of the nude models);
themes, subjects, facts, events which caused or might have caused undesirable thoughts, associations or illusions not in favour of the Soviet state.
It might seem to be quite a simple task to separate a harmful publication from a «good» one taking in account only ideological reasons. A censor had to be aware of the political platform of an author and his loyalty towards the Soviet Union and Communist Party. In case of political or economical publications it was true. In case of fiction, poetry, or art it appeared to be much more difficult for censors to judge.
The access to the original works of foreign art had been controlled by the state in different ways:
general limitation of the traveling abroad and instant control of the behaviour of the Soviet citizens while in the foreign countries;
strict limitation and censorship of the type of art objects to be displayed in the museums both at the permanent and temporary exhibitions;
limitation of the import of the art objects by private persons;
prohibition of the private art galleries and thus strict state control of each public presentation of the private art collections.
As one Russian researcher wrote: “В зоне повышенного внимания находились произведения американских и западноевропейских мастеров. Из “О, счастливчик” Линдсея Андерсена вырезали 32 минуты экранного времени, изменив и сюжет, и концепцию. Но самым наглядным примером варварства цензуры может послужить прокатная версия “Конформиста” Бернардо Бертолуччи. Фильм сократили на 30 минут, события в нем были самочинно «выстроены» в хронологическом порядке — взамен авторского ассоциативного сюжетосложения” .
Within the country it became vital for the sake of «the mental health» of the Soviet people to intrude in the very process of creation of an art object regardless to its media. This task was articulated shortly after the Revolution on the earliest days of the Soviet state, but it was not an easy one. Perception of the art works is more a sensation than a rational understanding. For example, the Russian avant-garde art of that period was predominantly non-figurative and the subjects could hardly be guessed or were too abstract. In this regard the decision of the Soviet cultural authorities was as simple as brilliant: To avoid any kind of double or hidden meaning, equivoques, misunderstanding of the contents of the art works the socialist realism was declared the one and only acceptable style and method of all arts in the Soviet Union.
After the Revolution the foremost Russian artists were forced to emigrate. It was a great tragedy of the national art. Those who for various reasons refused to leave the country had either to accept the communist dictatorship in art or to give up working. It took about 10 years (1922-1932) for the final break down and to put an end to «the art of the bourgeois past». Every -ism of the early 20th century art became the synonyms of the rudest words, generalised in the worst two terms: «formalism» and «modernism». Thus a great man-made gap had been generated in the evolution of Russian art. Every single attempt to change the direction of the main trend was suppressed and the guilty artist badly prosecuted .
After the death of Stalin, Soviet filmmakers were given a free hand to film what they believed audiences wanted to see in their film's characters and stories. However, the industry remained a part of the government and any material that was found politically offensive or undesirable, was either removed, edited, reshot, or shelved. In rare cases the filmmakers managed to convince the government of the innocence of their work and the film was released. The definition of "socialist realism" was liberalized to allow development of more human characters, but communism still had to remain uncriticized in its fundamentals. Additionally, the degree of relative artistic liberality was changed from administration to administration. Скрыть
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