Patterns of Behavior in the Great Patriotic War’s Soviet Cinema

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The author explores the moral stances of films produced during the Great Patriotic War. The author considers these films as a part of the state cultural policy suggesting that their plots and characters were subject to the political situation and focused on the morale building activities both in the military and in the rearward. The frame of holy war dictated patterns of behavior on the screen as well as in real life. The Great Patriotic War and necessity of the nation’s unity promoted Soviet people’s collectivist identity. The theme of revenge became the keynote of films produced during this period. On the one hand, Soviet people showed on the screen righteous anger, intransigence and even cruelty against the enemy; on the other hand - altruism, willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the sake of motherland and compatriots. The concept of “us” and “them” which had been formed during the class struggle received further development. The Soviet cinema tended to embody patterns of behavior for all social groups. Man’s and woman’s images became mostly archetypal. The author shows that a man’s positive image was a hero and a man of wisdom, whereas a woman’s positive image was to be a female warrior, beloved and mother. Moral rigorism, certainty and univocity of films shot during the war played a great role for the victory. Ethics of duty in Soviet films, introducing the model of “life as heroic act”, seemed invincible in the war years since it was based on distinct ideas of the purpose of the society. The destruction of the Soviet institutions and ideology would have contested the moral component of films made in the period of the Great Patriotic War. The article contributes to the development of historical memory and ability to perceive a film within the framework of public life and cultural policy.

Rostotskaya Marianna A

PhD (Arts), Assistant Professor, Head of the Aesthetics, History and Theory of Culture Department, VGIK.


Author for correspondence.


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Copyright (c) 2016 Rostotskaya M.A.

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