While in the early 20’s Russian cinema could still enjoy some degree of autonomy, already in the late part of said decade things were beginning to change rapidly.
One of the collateral effects of Stalin’s rise to power as the USSR’s totalitarian leader was that cinema would now be used as a tool to communicate with and educate the masses on Bolshevik ideology.
The initial tactic was to increase the production of genre films, a move deemed ‘cinema for the millions.’ When this plan was met with too much opposition, on the general grounds that entertainment was the opium of the masses, a number of thematic plans began to be drawn up: by the mid-30’s film studios would be required to make a certain amount of films based on a certain amount of themes related to Communist party plans.
Furthermore, all films would be subjected to obsessive checks from pre-production to exhibition by various communist figures and voluntary organizations. Stalin himself was responsible for correcting or banning a number of films: he even built a cinema in the Kremlin so that he could watch them at 11 p.m., the average time at which his workday would end.
Anyone, from film critics to unions could have a say on a film’s ideological position. This eventually led to choking the life out of what was becoming one of the most exciting national film industries in the world. A number of titles from the era remain remarkable.
It is just as interesting to see the reasons behind some of the reasons why some of the titles produced around this time were blacklisted. Here is a list of 8 of them.