Banned Films: Soviet Cinema under Stalin and the Failure of Power


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Film Studies


The stated goal of the Stalinist state was to use Soviet cinema as its “mighty propaganda weapon.” Contrary to what is commonly believed, however, this goal was never attained. Under Stalin, Soviet cinema saw its film output plummet, its filmmakers systematically underemployed, and many of its new films banned. All attempts by the Stalinist state to boost film production failed to produce results, and it was forced to compromise on a small number of propagandistically deficient films that Soviet filmmakers could successfully deliver. This dissertation examines four institutions of Soviet cinema—filmmaking practices, aesthetic traditions, administration, and censorship—to explain how and why this compromise between state and artists emerged.