Volume one a happier book
I would like to try to determine the subtitle of our debate ahead of the close finish. I would suggest this: "Ten years later." First of all, because exactly ten years ago, the group of authors basically completed the work that we are now discussing. Believe me, this is an important circumstance, because the authors have the right to celebrate a small anniversary today. It seems to me that as a result of such long sailing trials in the conditions of drift, the book proved its viability. If, from this point of view, we compare the first volume of the History of Soviet Cinema with the first volume of Essays, which was published in 1956, we can safely say that the History was much more fortunate. The fact that the Essays with all their roots went back to the period of little picture could not but have an effect. For a number of objective reasons, the authors of the three-volume edition failed to overcome the cliches and stereotypes that existed then. Therefore, the book became obsolete very soon, and now we can hardly recommend it even to VGIK students without extensive comments. Nevertheless, in "Essays" and today attract many interesting film criticism observations; some research points have not lost their relevance. The Essays was a necessary and important step towards the History.
In this sense, the first volume that we are analyzing is a happier book: it is a long-lived, because it was conceived and saw the light during the period of the general revival of cinema thought.
Our discussion provides an opportunity to determine the main methodological principles of two film stories - a sample of 1956 and 1969.
In the “Essays”, the obsolete “method” was glancing clearly: it was to put on the “Monomakh hat” from conveniently constructed schemes that had been pre-arranged on certain events and facts of history. Everything that puffed up was subject to a haircut. This was a serious flaw in the previous edition.
The authors of the new book departed from the old manners to a large extent, and departed fundamentally. Therefore, the book did not age methodologically. It was rightly noted here that the focus was not on a pre-invented, biased scheme, but on living material from the history of cinema. This time, facts and events were studied by the authors, as it were, from within the historical process itself. The induction method has fully justified itself.
Films were reviewed, archives were studied. Another thing, as Drobashsnko rightly noted, is that these archives could not be fully studied. Now, at a new stage, work is being carried out more fundamentally, a five-volume edition of Soviet Cinema in Documents and Facts is being prepared. It would probably be more rational to start with this at the time, and to end the “History”. But “ex-post” is always easier to say. Numerous references to archival indexes indicate that the authors of "History" nevertheless plowed a fair part of the documentary virgin land. From living tissue materials and grow their critical assessments. It seems to me that of all the known stories of Soviet cinema, this is perhaps the second work where the method of artistic analysis is most consistently and fully manifested. The book fundamentally inherited the good art tradition of Jesuit, our pioneer.
At first there were lone researchers - the Jesuits, Lebedev. Their books bore the imprint of the individuality of the authors. Then there was a series of essays by different authors, united by one binding, and, finally, we see a collective work, where there is a large group of researchers who have abandoned individual authorship. Is this good or bad? In my opinion, this is inevitable. In our century, when narrow specialization prevails everywhere, such a method is the only acceptable one. I would like to see a comprehensive methodological article on the pages of the magazine “Art of Cinema” that would generalize the experience of this collective work. The technique, of course, was correct (and later on about the methodology); the best proof of this is the feeling of the unity of the volume, the feeling that the book was written by one person. And in this case, the same positive factor is affecting. The Institute of Art History, having become the parent organization, managed to unite the disparate forces of film experts around itself, and this, in my deep conviction, is possible only in conditions of our social reality. fz-5.com