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Russian Women in Soviet Cinema

Each era is recognized by its own images. Venus De Milo, Mono Lisa, Marilyn Monroe - were not only faces but were the embodiments of different world outlooks existing in their times. What image of Russian women has been created by cinematography? The epoch of soundless cinema did not last long, but it had a great influence on the development of cinematography as a whole. The stars of the soundless cinema were able to emote a wide range of feelings and emotions without words, and special effects. Modern actors would not know where to begin in such a medium.

One of the queens of Russian soundless cinema was Vera Kholodnaya. She was admired by many poets, producers, actors, and paramours. Several films were shot about her life during her lifetime: "Thorny Path of a Fame" and "A Slave of Love. " Other Russian women pioneers of Russian soundless cinema were Vera Baranovskaya who became world famous for playing in the film "Mother" in 1916 and Alla Nazimova, one of the most popular and extravagant actresses of the world soundless cinema. In 1916 she got a contract from Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studio for $13,000 a week and became one of the most highly paid film stars in America. Her contribution into American art was marked by two stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

The Russian film studio "Rus," that by some miracle escaped destruction during the revolution, went back to work in 1922. In those hard times it was deservedly called the Russian Hollywood and the National Factory of Dreams. Russian women actresses were well treated and cherished there. They had a special recreation hall - a huge conservatory with tropical plants and soft velour armchairs. National film stars grew in an atmosphere of luxury and elitism. They were glamorous, sophisticated and showy women. Anelya Sudakevich, Galina Kravchenko, Natalia Lysenko had an extraordinary beauty and unusual grace. Their images that appeared on the screen at the end of the 1920's were unique, beautiful and bright, and they received thousands of letters from their fans. The fame of these Russian women was phenomenal, and their film posters and postcards were published in a huge circulation and sold everywhere. These actresses carried in their films a triumphant mystery of love, a cold detachment from the world and a clearly expressed sensitivity. Their heroines promised another kind of femininity to the world, another kind of mystery, and different images that were much more interesting, tender and spiritual than the heroines of western cinema.

But as it so often happens, fashion changes, and the Russian women cinema images that were so extremely popular in the 1920's, Sudakevich, Kravchenko , Lysenko, who played the roles of aristocrats and actresses did not suit to the wishes of the Soviet Komsomol. These sophisticated heroines were changed to farmer women and worker women.

The new approved images for Russian women were of hard working, easy-going, naïve, very open hearted and dedicated simple blondes who were full of stamina. Peasant Russian women became the heroes of the new myth. The new era of soundtrack cinema changed everything, especially the requirements of actresses casting for the main parts. Lubov Orlova, Marina Latynina, Vera Maretskaya, Valentina Serova and Tamara Makarova all imparted an absolutely different Russian women image in the cinematography of Russia. They dictated not only fashion in clothing but also hair styles. They changed the face of Russian women for decades to come. Many Russian women looking at the beauties of Soviet movies dreamed to be like them at least just a little. A woman's face evolved according to historical norm. The self-sacrifice of these new heroines was demanded by the great ordeals of the time.

The image of Russian women, as artless but ingenuous, ready to give everything and take nothing was once and for all asserted in the Soviet films of the 1960's. The stern cinematography of the war and post war period shattered the former image of Russian women as mysterious. Their new mystery is embodied in their readiness to bear everything and to give everything.

But toward the end of the 20th century and in the first years of the 21st century, there appeared new faces, new films and new variations of Russian women's image. Eyvdokiya Germanova, Elena Solovey, Anna Samohina , Natalia Metlitskaya are now the brightest actresses of Russian modern cinema who share the fame of their great Russian actress forerunners.


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