The “Freedom” of Soviet Cinema

(p. A13) In the world we live in–and the system we’ve created for ourselves, in terms of it’s a big industry–you cannot lose money. So the point is that you’re forced to make a particular kind of movie. And I used to say this all the time, with people, you know, back when Russia was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and they’d say, “Oh, but aren’t you so glad that you’re in America?” And I’d say, well, I know a lot of Russian filmmakers and they have a lot more freedom than I have. All they have to do is be careful about criticizing the government. Otherwise, they can do anything they want.

George Lucas, from an interview with Charlie Rose, as quoted in:
“Notable & Quotable: George Lucas and Soviet Cinema.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Jan. 4, 2016): A13.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 3, 2016.)

Compare what Lucas says, with the following:

(p. 164) Auteur cinema encountered difficulties in the and 1970s, partly because its poetic language remained inaccessible for the masses and made no considerable win at the box office, and partly because its symbolism was often feared to lead (p. 165) astray Soviet cinema’s political agenda. Sometimes international pressure or support could mean that film was released for screenings, while it remained undistributed or in low distribution at home. This applies to films of the leading auteurs of the period: Andrei Tarkovsky, whose Andrei Rublev was delayed for several years; Alexei Gherman, whose Trial on the Roads was banned; Alexander Sokurov, whose films were stopped during production (Anaesthesia Dolorosa); and Kira Muratova, who had two films banned and was prevented from working as director until the 1980s.

Auteur cinema, which emphasized the artistic impulse, in sharp contrast to socialist principle and was condemned, even with hindsight, by Sergei Gerasimov in 1988: ‘They [the auteur filmmakers] want to preach like a genius, a messiah. That is a position that is compatible with our communist ethics.’

Beumers, Birgit. A History of Russian Cinema. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2009.
(Note: bracketed phrase in original.)

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