Louis Menashe, "Moscow Believes in Tears: Russians and Their Movies" (New Academia, 2010)


Did you see one of Eisenstein's masterpieces "The Battleship Potemkin" and "Alexander Nevsky" in a Russian or Soviet history class? Were you captivated by Tarkovsky's brooding long shots in movies such as "Solaris" and "Stalker"? Did you seek out Pichul's "Little Vera" in the theater to get a glimpse of the new openness ushered in by Glasnost? If you did, or even more if you did not, Louis Menashe's Moscow Believes in Tears: Russians and Their Movies (New Academia, 2011) offers a valuable entre into Soviet and Russian film, especially during the Gorbachev years. (Full disclosure: Menashe and I used to share an office. He taught me a lot, so I'm somewhat biased.) Menashe has long used Soviet film as a medium for discussing Russian and Soviet society in the classroom, thus the essays in this book will be of use to teachers. But beyond being a handy pedagogical resource, the book is a valuable history of Soviet cinema in the "Era of Stagnation," Glasnost, and the Post-Soviet period. He argues that many very high quality films were made in the "Era of Stagnation," though some were not shown. During Glasnost, these "lost" films made it into the theater to wide acclaim. Things were looking up. Yet, Monashe says, just as Gorbachev failed to create the foundation for an enduring open society, his Post-Soviet successors have failed to nurture a new generation of filmmakers to rival the creativity of the great Soviet directors.

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