Stalin v. Auteurism

From Evgeny Dobrenko’s Stalinist Cinema and the Production of History: Museum of the Revolution, page 5:

Konstatin Simonov describes in his memoirs a noteworthy scene. In 1940, on Stalin’s orders, the film The Law of Life (Zakon zhizni) was banned, and the author of the screenplay, Alexander Avdeenko, was subjected to acute criticism. After a meeting of the Central Committee, Stalin was asked what should be done with the directors, Alexander Stolper and Boris Ivanov, who were in fact present. Stalin, carelessly turning his fingers in the air to show how film revolves in a camera, observed, ‘And who are they? They only turned the reels on what he wrote for them.’

And from Teresa Torańska’s Them: Stalin’s Polish Puppets:

Stalin didn’t take part in our games and appeared only later, for supper or a movie, which he projected especially for us. He liked American [movies], ultra-political [movies], he lit up then, made comments.

Perhaps never has a historical figure been more a champion of the American screenwriter. Truffaut and Andrew Sarris be purged!


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