Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Ermler, Stalin, and Animation: On the Film The Peasants (1934)



By Peter Bagrov (St. Petersburg)

Fridrikh Ermler’s The Peasants is such a strange and unexpected film that it is impossible to decide on how to approach it, especially when the focus will be on such an exotic topic as Stalin’s animated representation. It is unclear where one should begin: with the film itself? with Ermler? with Stalin? or with the animation sequence?
Stalin (let’s start with him) first appeared as a character in feature films in 1937 in Mikhail Romm’s Lenin in October. To be completely accurate, however, we should also include Sergei Eisenstein’s October (1927), although the future “father of the people” appeared only as a face in mass scenes. This was noticed for the first time, I believe, only two years ago by filmmaker and film scholar Oleg Kovalov (117). So the film does not really count. In the cast credits for Lenin in October, Stalin’s name was already in second place, immediately after Lenin’s. The role, however, was only episodic and was performed by a type-cast actor who was discovered in the provinces—Semen Gol'dshtab. [1]

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