Monday, 28 March 2011

Grigori Aleksandrov: Volga-Volga - Волга-Волга (1938)

Director:Grigori Aleksandrov
Writers:Nikolay Erdman, Vladimir Nilsen
Stars:Igor Ilyinsky, Lyubov Orlova, Pavel Olenev

In August 1932 Grigory Aleksandrov had been invited to Maxim Gorky's dacha where Stalin, who 'happened' to be visiting, spoke of the need for a new Soviet culture which would be an 'upbeat, joyous art full of fun and laughter'. In 1933, the Party Central Committee called a conference of people at which they advanced the slogans 'Give Us Comedy' and 'Laughter Is the Brother of Strength', and called on the country's chief film directors to produce comedies. Those assembled were told that viewers' letters were demanding comedies. …. Volga-Volga must be seen as a standard Soviet film, an exemplar of socialist realism. Yet it was also one of the most popular films of the Soviet 1930s; throughout the country long lines formed at the box office to see it. …In fact, among its most devoted fans was Stalin himself; he even sent a copy to Roosevelt in 1942 for his education. Stalin apparently had the film screened so often that as he viewed it he would recite many jokes before they came up on the soundtrack. ...

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