chapter  3
22 Pages

Nina Ruslanova

Traversing the spaces of late socialism
WithTom Roberts

This chapter considers the character types Nina Ruslanova developed in her first screen roles, including Kira Muratova's debut feature, which display a subtle, understated reworking of conventional models of the Soviet cinematic heroine. Beginning with her debut performance in Muratova's Brief Encounters, Ruslanova entered Soviet cinema at a transitional moment, as the comparatively relaxed cultural environment of the thaw gave way to the stagnation period of Leonid Brezhnev's rule. While Ruslanova's screen presence was immediately singular, her cinematic performances exemplify the unique cultural environment of the stagnation era, which framed the first phase of her film career. Getting to Know employs the construction setting to invoke a discourse on the spatial experience of late socialism, actualized through Ruslanova's performance. She develops a postmodern performative aesthetics that is appropriate to the stagnation period, reflecting the absence of stable reference points, in self and society alike.