RSSS304-War - Chambers 1 Alex Chambers Professor Barker...

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Chambers 1 Alex Chambers Professor Barker RSSS304 28 November 2007 War in Post-Soviet Film As in any culture, war brings about a gamete of emotional and social query. Under the tight censorship of the Soviet Union, the arts were not free to explore the questions that war had brought about. There were no investigative films into war as the American war with Communism (Vietnam) had brought to Hollywood. It was not that film was not as popular or cultured in the East, in fact “the war film has been a staple ingredient of Soviet and post-Soviet cinema” (Webber and Mathers 80). Mosfilm and the new private film studios that began to arise under glasnost of the 1980’s were on the other hand reflecting more on Stalin and the early dark years that had shaped the Soviet Union. The ten years (1979-1989) the Soviet Union was fighting in Afghanistan was not reflected much on the screen. Perhaps this was a generation of artists still reeling from the tents of Socialist Realism that decided to instead self censor Afghanistan out of their work, or perhaps the Purges and Stalin had not been brought to closure within the Soviet Union and still needed more questioning. By the 1990’s, the modern wars of Russia could not be ignored by the arts, conservative figures estimate the causality rates for Afghanistan and Chechnya were 27,000 and 17,000 casualties respectively (Weissman 68, Weiler 110). The Chechen wars (1994-1996 and 1999-Ongoing) have now equaled the war in Afghanistan in length and there is no immediate end in sight; with in Russia, films are beginning to examine these wars and what repercussions they are having.
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Chambers 2 There are three prominent films that deal with issues of modern Russian wars, Prisoner of the Mountains (1996), House of Fools (2003), and Voina (2002). Each of these films is set in the war zones of the Caucasus, though Prisoner of the Mountain never explicitly states exactly where the scenery is, and each film poses an answer to the question of post-Soviet Russianness and each film contains a different portrayal of “the others”. Prisoner of the Mountains and House of Fools are decidedly anti-war and share a common contrast of themes to Voina, which widely seen as anti-Chechen. There is an argument that could still be made that Voina is too an anti-war film, or at least demands for the end of the Chechen wars. Released the last year of the First Chechen War, Prisoner of the Mountains is based on the book Prisoner of the Caucasus by Leo Tolstoy written in 1872 (Webber and Mathers 84), but brought into the context of the then ongoing war in Chechnya. The director Sergei Bodrov, whose son plays the leading role, took artistic license in updating the story. Tolstoy story involved two Russian officers, brutalized by savage people of the Caucasus, where Bodrov’s Russians are common enlisted soldiers who examine the lives of the simple people of the Caucasus as they are held captive. There are elements of Bodrov’s rendition that are ludicrous, such as the free range to wander around the Chechen
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2009 for the course RSSS 304 taught by Professor Dunkel during the Fall '09 term at Arizona.

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RSSS304-War - Chambers 1 Alex Chambers Professor Barker...

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