chapter  21
6 Pages

Song in the cinema of the '60s. Crystallization of a monothematic model in the musical drama of the song film.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the cinema during this period was its recourse to modern themes and subjects, contemplation of the fate of the country, on youth looking for a purpose in life, a desire to understand the frame of mind of people living in close proximity, their psychology, their moral attitudes1. The activist, the ardent fighter for the triumph of communist ideas was replaced by the 'thoughtful man', defending his convictions in heated discussions. The shifting of emphasis from action or event to the state of the hero's inner world, a distinctive intellectual tendency in the best films of the '60s, inevitably resulted in a weakening of the element of spectacle, in the holding up of the action and in a concentration on dialogue and discussion given these conditions, music was pushed to the background and treated with caution. Probably it was feared that its emotionality in conveying the inner feelings of man could cast an undesirable sentimental and melodramatic shadow over the cold rationalist style of such films. At the same time, the Soviet cinema could not bypass the vehement dispute over 'physicists and lyricists', which was accompanied by the increased interest of the technocratic intelligentsia in modern art. This was caused, during the post-war period, by the intensity of the restoration of the national economy, and the powerful development of industry, which had raised the prestige of the technical professions to an unusually high level. As a result, a great part of the Soviet intelligentsia developed a particularly materialist and rationalist view of the environment, and an exaggerated conception of man as master and creator of nature. The priority of technical over humanitarian knowledge seemed a foregone conclusion. In response, 'Lyricists', in open disputes, tried to show that any human existence which denied the spiritual sphere made man defective and inferior, and warned against the danger of science being dehumanized. One of such disputes, shot as a chronicle during the meeting of young Moscow poets with the students and teachers of the PolytechnicInstitute, was shown in the film by Marlen Khutsiev,

The Ilyich Gate (1961, composer Sidelnikov). Among its participants were the poets Akhmadulina, Robert Rozhdestvensky, Evgeni Evtushenko, and the poet and singer Bulat Okudjava, whose name became a kind of symbol of freedom-loving aspiration and the very spirit of the '60s.