THE MOST IMPORTANT ART: Eastern European Film after 1945 by Mira & Antonin J. Liehm Liehm

THE MOST IMPORTANT ART: Eastern European Film after 1945

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The Golden Age of Soviet cinema is well known, and one can even catch a rerun of Eisenstein's Potemkin on the Late Show, but few have heard of The Soil Under Your Feet (Hungary, 1948) or New Days Will Come (Bulgaria, 1950); the reader who can make it through this exhaustive critical history will learn about these and hundreds of other films made in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites since the Second World War. In an introductory chapter the authors examine the pre-1945 period, pointing to the optimism of the avant-garde following the Russian Revolution and the nationalization of the film industry: they thought this would remove film from the marketplace and turn it into ""an art underwritten by society."" But it soon grew evident that the East European studios were becoming ""dream factories"" just like their Hollywood counterparts--only the dreams they churned out were of happy workers fulfilling the historical imperatives of communism. This pattern of repression and censorship, and the artist's struggle to produce individual, personal statements, prevails to this day, although the situation has eased since the time when a film could be banned on the grounds of ""hopelessness and a false view of the working class."" To call the book a critical history is perhaps to overstate: in their desire for thoroughness the authors have examined hundreds of films, most of which, inevitably, are treated in a cursory manner; this is appropriate for the typical socialist realist tractor drama but not for a comic masterpiece like Milos Forman's Firemen's Ball. Nonetheless the volume's usefulness as a record and a reference source is manifest.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 1976
Publisher: Univ. of California Press