When the Bolsheviks seized power in the Soviet Union during 1917, they were suffering from a substantial political legitimacy deficit. Uneasy political foundations meant that they were always on the defensive and cinema became a key part of the strategy to protect the existence of the USSR. This welcome book shows how one of film's central functions was as an important means of convincing the masses that the regime was legitimate and a bearer of historical truth. Based on extensive research in archives and primary sources, the book examines the interaction between politics and the Soviet cinema industry during the period between Stalin's rise to power and the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. This was the era when the Bolsheviks were trying to develop a 'cinema for the millions', which sought to engage Soviet citizens politically by carefully blending entertainment with the communist message. Jamie Miller investigates how political and administrative decision-making, censorship, thematic planning and purges were shaped by the Bolsheviks' defensive outlook, which in turn had a largely negative impact on the production process. He examines the role of film unions and societies, compares the development of two different studios and looks at the education system for cinema personnel. He also analyses key films of the period, including the classic musical Circus, the class enemy drama The Party Card and the political epic The Great Citizen.
Politics and Persuasion Under Stalin