Postwar Soviet Cinema- Censorship


Early Censorship


Censorship applied only to images of Tsar, pornography, and (after 1905) to demonstrations/events of French revolution that oculd lead to political agitation

Cinema Committee of the People's Comissariat for Enlightenment set up

November 22, 1917

almost immediately after Bolshevik coup; also known as Narkompros (Taylor 98)

First attempts at film censorship

July 17, 1918

came at local level, Moscow Soviet demanded to see all advertising material used by cinemas in the city (Taylor 98)

Narkompros released 1st list of unsuitable films to be removed from screens

August 1918

Taylor 98

GRK (State Repertoire Committee) established by Sovnarkom

9 February 1923

first censorship body devoted to Soviet films; GRK's censorship regime was mild in the 20s

Mid 20s--> Censorship Tightens


censorship of cinema began to fall under influence/control not just of state organs of censorship but also of Bolshevik party institutions (taylor 99)

Banned Films Increased

1925 - 1930

late 20s- for idealizing bourgeois decadence' or 'low morals' or films that showed crime/prostitution/other depravities (miller 53)

Increasingly Draconian system of censorship in Soviet cinema


late 1920s onward--Jamie Miller

First All-Union Party Conference of Cinema

March 1928

o “Cinema, the ‘most important of the arts,’ can and must occupy an important place in the process of cultural revolution as a medium for broad educational work and Communist propaganda, the organization and education of the masses round the slogans and tasks of the party and their artistic education, wholesome rest and entertainment…Cinema, like every art, cannot be apolitical” (Taylor 101)

Nearly 300 foreign films withdrawn from distribution

November 1928

Miller 54

Scripts first examined in script department in each studio

1929 - 1931

Miller 58

Beginning of censorship at studio level with intro. of Party reps or 'cells'


insignificant between 1920 and mid 30s; Miller 57

Many Soviet Films Banned

1929 - 1934

between 1929 and mid 30s--> many soviet films banned, unusually high proportion of them from Ukraine, Belorussia, Georgia, Armenia, and other Soviet republics; most banned for their 'trivial' or 'banal' stories (quote on Miller 54)

1930s- Foreign Films fall to almost zero


beumers 77

Soyuzkino established as sole body to produce/control films


beumers 77

GRK becomes increasingly insignificant, renamed GURK



Party's Orgburo of the Central Committee est. centralized cinema commision


Spring 1933-->intended to control all film projects from early script and thematic stages through to production and release (Miller 60)

Party cells gain right to discuss script before production


Miller 57

Ogburo established membership of new commission

7 July 1933

Alexei Stetsky (head of Agitprop) as chairman, party idealogues liek Andrei Bubnov and Sergei Dinamov as well as head of cinema industry Boris Shumiatsky (Miller 61)

Socialist Realism doctrine established

August 1934

at first Congress of Soviet writers (Taylor 101, also in beumers and faraday)

Orgburo liquidated by Politburo

25 December 1934

duties handed to Central Committee's Kultprosvetrabota (cultural and enlightenment work) department; key members (Stetsky, Bubnov, Dinamov, and Kosior executed within a few years) (Miller 62)

Rejecting ideas not pertinent to political matters or praising regime


late 1930s onward (Jamie Miller

Party gaining stronger foothold in studios (late 30s)

1935 - 1939

miller 57

GRK absorbed by Komitet po Delam Iskusstv (All-Union Committee for the Arts)


Shumiatsky appointed chair of Committee of Arts Affairs


overseeing entire arts sector and film prodution beumers 99

Campaign against formalism


Miller 59

GRK becomes part of Cinema Committee structure


Miller 55

Script departments fully integrated in centralized system of official checks


Miller 59

Zhdanov's campaign to oust ideol. suspect films

June 1940 - August 1941

Summer 40 to Summer 41, banned at least 17 features on grounds that they were politically defective (Miller 67) (taylor 103-4)

Germany breaks non-aggression pact and invades


cinema industry had to be pretected and located (taylor 103)

Film industry restored and reconstructed


taylor 103

Late 40s--> film famine or malokartin'e

1945 - 1949

taylor 103

Andrei Zhdanov's cosmopolitan campaign

1946 - 1948

beumers 107

Ministry of Cinematography est. under previous chairman Ivan Bolshakov

March 20, 1946

taylor 103

State filmmaking apparatus under MInistry of Culture

1953 - 1963

Death of Stalin

March 1953

taylor 104

Ivan Pyriev head of Mosfilm


beumers 115

The Thaw

1954 - 1966

beumers 112

Sixth Five-Year Plan

1956 - 1960

foresaw investment in cinema instrastructure, studios, and cinemas beumers 115

Yekaterina Furtseva in charge of ideology at Central Committee

1956 - 1960

policies a mix between repression and benefaction (beumers 116)

Khruschev's secret speech

February 1956

taylor 104

Cranes are Flying



Furtsev as Minister of Culture

1960 - 1974

beumers 116

Independent ministerial status restored as Goskino


Ministry of Culture renamed Goskino


Alexei Romanov as chair of Goskino

1963 - 1972

Concerned above all with 'party spirit' (partiinost) and 'extremely puritanical and ultra-sensitive about 'bedroom scenes' (Steffen)

Khrushchev Ousted

October 14 1964

soviet authorities initiated general crackdown against intellectuals, apparently based on the perception by many Communist party leaders (esp. in Russia and Ukraine) that Khrushchev tolerated too much open dissent in the name of the Thaw and de-Stalinization (beumers 115)

Kiev Frescoes blocked


beumers 141--> suspicion about parajanov began

Union of Filmmakers (FU) held its constitutent congress

November 1965

Beumers 115

Shelving of Films

1967 - 1971


After 1967: difficult to get scripts approved


beumers 146

Yuri Andropov (chair of KGB) established the Fifth Directorate

July 1967

within the organization to deal with internal political issues such as censorship and dissent (Steffen 78)

Romanov replaced with Filipp Yermash as Goskino Chair


developing a stronger slate of commercial films (Steffen)

Brezhnev dies



1983 - 1992

Perestroika/Glasnost begins


taylor 105

Gorbachev elected as General Secretary

11 March 1985


FU began to remove films from shelves



Yermash replaced by Alexander Kamshalov


intended to shakeup leadership and loosen controls under perestroika and glasnost (Steffen 10-11)

Twenty- Seventh Party Congress

March 1986


26 April 1986

Fifth Congress of Soviet Film-makers

May 1986

Taylor 105