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The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and RussiaBetween Pain and Pleasure$
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Ewa Mazierska, Matilda Mroz, and Elzbieta Ostrowska

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474405140

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474405140.001.0001

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The Body Breached: Post-Soviet Masculinity on Screen

The Body Breached: Post-Soviet Masculinity on Screen

(p.89) Chapter 4 The Body Breached: Post-Soviet Masculinity on Screen
The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and Russia

Helena Goscilo

Edinburgh University Press

Whereas the utopian male body of the Soviet Imaginary hyperbolized and recast in steel or bronze the anatomical ideals of classical antiquity (Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘closed body’), post-Soviet cinema typically has featured a male corporeality resembling the open body of apertures and protruberances posited by Bakhtin, but as degraded, marred, and vulnerable (Kenneth Clark) rather than celebratory or regenerative. Thus the indomitable heroes of hypertrophied bulk, brawn, and beauty in Stalinist films such as Grigorii Aleksandrov’s Circus (1936), Mikhail Kalatozov’s Valerii Chkalov (1941), and Mikheil Chiaureli’s Fall of Berlin (1949) have been superseded by the dramatically violated and traumatized physiques of protagonists in recent films confronting war—Aleksandr Nevzorov’s Purgatory (1998 ), Valerii Todorovskii’s My Stepbrother Frankenstein (2004), Aleksandr Veledinskii’s Alive (2006)—and those reassessing the Stalinist era: Aleksei German’s Khrustalev, the Car (1998) and Pavel Livnev’s Hammer and Sickle (1994). Indeed, the latter explicitly deconstructs the forcible transformation of Soviet citizenry into fantastic icons of Stakhanovite virility and its tragic consequences. Similarly, post-Soviet onscreen crime devastates the male body, and nowhere more vividly than in Filipp Iankovskii’s Lermontov-indebted Sword Bearer (2006), which violently imprints all contemporary experience, most of it lethal, on the human form in a world ruled by material values and devoid of communal ideals.

Keywords:   Post-Soviet cinema, masculinity, body

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