chapter  5
18 Pages

The role of music in creating a mythicised image of socialism. Song in the service of ideology: the musical film comedies of Alexandrov and Pyriev.

The film which is traditionally considered to be the forefather of the' song type' of musical dramaturgy was released in 1932. It was The Counter Plan by Ermler (in cooperation with Yutkevich), which, as Shostakovich admitted, proved to be a turning-point in his' cinema-biography'. It was one of the first Soviet films which dealt not with the historical past, such as the time of revolution or of civil war, but turned to the peaceful present-day life of the people. In response to Stalin's demand that art should express the idea of building up a new socialist society; The Counter Plan opened the way to a torrent of optimistic, cheerful pictures glorifying the heroism of labour and mass enthusiasm. At the same time, assimilation of new themes and ideas resulted in a revaluation of all the components of cinematic means of expressiveness, including music, which had also to be in accord with the spirit and the rhythm of the '30s. It is of interest that Ermler, who perceived the ever growing popularity of the mass song, asked Shostakovich to write a cheerful, invigorating' industrial' song. Composing it appears to have been something of a torture, for it involved long discussions. Yet the final version proved to be a classic example of the Soviet popular song of the pre-war years.