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v2.1 Reference

Insiders and Outsiders in Russian Cinema

Identifying who was "inside" and who was "outside" the Soviet/Russian body politic has been a matter of intense and violent urgency, especially in the high Stalinist and post-Soviet periods. It is a theme encountered prominently in film. Employing a range of interpretive methods practiced in Russian/Soviet film studies, Insiders and Outsiders in Russian Cinema highlights the varied ways that Russian and Soviet cinema constructed otherness and foreignness. While the essays explore the "us versus them" binary well known to students of Russian culture and the ways in which Russian films depicted these distinctions, the book demonstrates just how impossible maintaining this binary proved to be.

Contributors are Anthony Anemone, Julian Graffy, Peter Kenez, Joan Neuberger, Stephen M. Norris, Oleg Sulkin, Yuri Tsivian, Emma Widdis, and Josephine Woll.

About the Authors

Stephen M. Norris is Associate Professor of History at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He is author of A War of Images: Russian Popular Prints, Wartime Culture, and National Identity, 1812–1945.

Zara M. Torlone is Assistant Professor of Classics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She has published articles on Vergil's elegies, classical philology in Russia, and the poetry of Joseph Brodsky.


"One way Soviet films define Russianness is by contrasting outsiders (usually foreign visitors) and insiders ("ours"). The examples in the first essay, about early Soviet films, are clear and specific. The second essay shows how Soviet films reedit for foreign consumption and make incoming foreign films more ideologically acceptable; e.g., "Happy endings would be removed as suggesting that one can be happy under capitalism." The third essay examines clothes. Another, on Ivan the Terrible, says foreigners are "caricatured, parodied, ridiculed and dehumanized, sexually ambiguous, demonic, and animal-like." The emerging danger is stereotyping, or propagandizing: Soviets are good, outsiders are scum. The nine essays are wonderful in their analyses of films. But a cloud of exclusion or manipulation hovers over the topic. Vigilantism? An essay on Aleksei Balabanov's films is fully aware of that possibility. Contradictions within the culture are not allowed ... in cinema. Since the topic of national identity is hugely important, the question of how closely cinema emulates reality is crucial. Surely articulating nationhood, here beautifully explored, is only fractionally cinematic. For full context, readers should seek out National Identity in Russian Culture, ed. by Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis (CH, Mar'05, 42-4189). Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —Choice"—P. H. Stacy, emeritus, University of Hartford, Feb. 2009

". . . The nine essays are wonderful in their analyses of films. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.February 2009"—Choice

"[The editors] and the volume's contributors offer an insightful survey of how Soviet and Russian cinema constructed the meanings of Soviet, Russian and foreign identities over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-rst centuries. . . . It will be useful to graduate students and scholars working in the area of Russian andlm studies.V.89.3 Jully 2011"—Slavic and East European Review

". . . Stephen Norris and Zara Torlone have . . . produced an anthology that is the best I have ever had the pleasure of reading. . . Lucidly written, well researched, persuasively argued, lavishly illustrated, Insiders and Outsiders in Russian Cinema can be read with pleasure and profit by anyone from the general reader interesed in Russian culture to the most seasoned Russian film specialist.Vol. 68.2 April 2009"—Denise J. Youngblood, University of Vermont

". . .a fine collection of essays by leading film scholars . . . .Vol. 68.4 Winter 2009"—Brigit Beumers, University of Bristol

"In a word, the theoretical richness and sophistication of this collection parallel the complexity of its topics and serve as an excellent cross-section of how the theme of foreigners and outsiders is examined in comtemporary studies in film. Volume 54, Issue 4 Winter 2010"—Slavonic & East European Journal

"A superb collection of essays . . . that examines in a remarkably rich and varied way the construction of otherness and foreignness within this complexly 'national' cinema tradition. . . . Excellent on all counts."—John MacKay, Yale University
Indiana University Press

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