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rus.filmkunstIn the 1920’s and 30’s, there was no great love in America for movies made in the USSR under the new communist regime of Lenin and Stalin.

In Europe there was a different attitude toward the Russian Arts in general, as not all of it was propaganda to further the Socialist/Communist cause. A certain factor was the adherence of prominent European artists to the various socialist movements established in Germany and Austria and spreading rapidly all over Eastern Europe after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.

Good reading on the development of Eastern European art can be found in the book, Modern Art in Eastern Europe, from the Baltic to the Balkans circa 1890-1939 by S. A. Mansbach published in 1997 by the Cambridge University Press.

rus2This was also the time of social upheaval after WWI, the formation of the Weimar Republic and the start of the Bauhaus in Germany. Films made in Russia were now available to a larger public in part because of the end of the silent movie era. Refugee Russians worked in the movie industry in Germany, France and Holland and brought with them new filming techniques, like the “diagonal positioning of the still shots“. Russian movies were often made with the use of enormously impressive Avant Garde stage set designs done by architects, painters and graphic artists. It was also easy to build sets from available props like battleships and trains, or to make use of the expansive space of the Russian landscape.

One of the countries which placed a lot of emphasis on the “new art of movie making ” in general was Holland. The Dutch publisher Brusse issued this small publication of 84 pages with a softcover (top of page) as number 4 in a series of 12 books on the Art of the Cinema. Seven volumes out of twelve were dedicated to the American, German, Dutch and French cinema. Four volumes covered technical aspects of movie making, like “sound” or genre, comedy and the artistic movie.

The cover of the book (top of page) with its “provocative red color and diagonal photo composition“, as well as, Russian typography was designed by the internationally well known Dutch typographer/graphic artist Piet Zwart.

The Russian subtitle of the book surely could not be read by 99% of the readers, including me, and is as much an attention getter as a provocation. Zwart became also the editor for the last volume of the series, number 12, which was titled Movie Advertising.

rus1The book has a Dutch text and 90 black and white images. It follows an easy to read theme, from an overview of movie making before and during the Russian Revolution through identifying popular movie actors and the titles of the major films and the film makers. It also discusses some technical details.