Viktor Turin's Turksib as an ecological message

БЕРКОВА Надежда Николаевна

Cite item


The documentary by Victor Turin The Steel Way. Turksib (1929) is analyzed in this essay from the perspective of interaction between nature and society. The essay compares Turksib with the avant-garde films of Dziga Vertov and analyzes the language, editing system and poetics of intertitles characteristic of Turin’s film. It is noted that in the visual structure of Turksib images of the “sculpting in time” (according to Andrei Tarkovsky) allocate a significant role to the ethnographic pictures of local people’s life, virgin landscapes and wild and domestic animals. The accent is put on the emphatic rhythm of the intertitles, which actualizes the problems of interaction between nature and society. The construction of the Turkestan-Siberian railway through the Kazakh steppe and the Siberian forests demonstrates the advancement of scientism whose proponents are convinced of the inevitability of scientific and technological progress. The essay shows how the attitudes of the representatives of power, the transformers of the region lead to a change in value priorities in particular, towards “the pacifying of the stubborn nature” with the aim of putting it at the service of man. The essay ends with an analysis of Turksib’s significance as an ecological message and concludes that if the ideas and artistic techniques of Turin’s film were developed further, the history of documentary cinema in the following decades could include ecology as one of its major directions.

Full Text

Turksib, V. Turins documentary is analyses in terms of the interaction of nature and civilization. Comparing the film to the works of avant-guard filmmakers, the author investigates the specificities of the its language and the approach to shooting ethnographic scenes, habitable and virgin landscapes. The article also justifies the policy of the region’s reformers leading to the shifting of priorities of the time, including the “taming of the stubborn nature,” reveals the message of the film as environmental issue.


About the authors

Nadezhda N. Berkova

Kazakh National Academy of Arts named after T.Zhurgenov

Author for correspondence.

Associate Professor



  1. Vertov D. (2004) Shestaja chast' mira [The sixth part of the world]. Vertov D. Iz nasledija. Tom pervyj. Dramaturgicheskie opyty. Moscow: Jejzenshtejn-centr, 2004. 536 p.
  2. Vertov D. (2008) Iz nasledija. Tom vtoroj. Stat'i i vystuplenija [Articles. Performances]. Moscow: Jejzenshtejn-centr, 2008. 648 p.
  3. Zabolockij N.N. (1987) Mysl' i slovo molodogo Zabolockogo [The thought and speech of young Zabolotsky]. Zabolockij N.A. Veshnih dnej laboratorija: Stihotvorenija i pojema (1926–1937). Sost., vstup. st. prim. N.N. Zabolockogo. Moscow: Molodaja gvardija, 1987, pp. 5–16.
  4. Zabolockij N.A. Stolbcy i pojemy. Stihotvorenija [Columns and poems]. Sost. i vstup. stat'ja N.N. Zabolockogo. Moscow: Hudozhestvennaja literatura, 1989. 352 p.
  5. Istorija sovetskogo kino [History of Soviet Cinema]. V chetyreh tomah. Pod red. S. Ginzburga, M. Zaka i dr. Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1969–1978.
  6. Mysl', vooruzhennaja rifmami [The idea is, armed with rhymes]. Pojeticheskaja antologija. Iz istorii russkogo stiha. Sost., avtor statej i prim. B.E. Holshevnikov. L: Izdatel'stvo Leningradskogo universiteta, 1983. 448 p.
  7. Siranov K. (1980) Nachalo bol'shogo puti [The beginning of a long way]. Ocherki istorii kazahskogo kino. Alma-Ata: izdatel'stvo ‘‘Nauka’’, 1980, pp. 8–50.
  8. Turin i ego fil'm ‘‘Turksib’’. Turin and his film Turksibhttp: // html#ixzz2w3bYkbLh (accessed 10.12.2017).
  9. Chernenko M. Viktor Turin. (accessed 10.02.2018).
  10. Jejzenshtejn S. (1968) Oktjabr'. Po tu storonu igrovoj i neigrovoj [On the other side of gaming and non-gaming]. S. Jejzenshtejn. Izbrannye proizvedenija v shesti tomah. Vol. 5. Moscow: Iskusstvo. 1968. 600 p.

Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Беркова Н.Н. Фото автора

Download (197KB)
2. Shot from the film “Steel Way. Turksib "(1929)

Download (20KB)
3. Shot from the film “Steel Way. Turksib "(1929)

Download (20KB)
4. Shot from the film “Steel Way. Turksib "(1929)

Download (27KB)
5. Shot from the film “Steel Way. Turksib "(1929)

Download (20KB)
6. Shot from the film “Steel Way. Turksib "(1929)

Download (21KB)

Copyright (c) 2019 Berkova N.N.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies