Tatiana Samoilova and the search for a new Soviet woman
By the end of the 1950s, Tatiana Samoilova's star burned more brightly than any other Soviet film actress of her generation. Despite the ease with which scholars of Soviet cinema can generalize a new model of female subjectivity from movies like The Cranes Are Flying, The Letter Never Sent, and Anna Karenina, Samoilova's characters are unique individuals and never simply representatives of a collective consciousness. Demanding freedom, happiness, and love, Samoilova's characters embody passion, toughness, bravery, and resilience in facing the challenges presented by history, nature, and society. For many viewers she remains an emblem of the thaw itself, when Soviet society at large shared the elusive dream of a just society composed of free and autonomous individuals. Samoilova's Anna Karenina makes a powerful argument that autonomy, satisfaction, and happiness for the individual woman will always be just out of reach in a hypocritical and patriarchal society.