Circus

In the Russian film, Circus, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov, a clear message is carried throughout the entire content of the film. One can automatically catch on to the film’s pro-Soviet message, which includes a positive portrayal of the country. This is first is shown when Marion finds refuge in the Soviet Union from the United States because she is the mother of an African American baby. The film tells the audience that the Soviet Union does not discriminate against any race and embraces everyone with open arms, portraying themselves in a positive manner and informing the nation on their improvement as a collective group.… Read the rest here

“To Catch Up and Overtake”

Watching Aleksandrov’s “Circus” it’s certainly hard to not notice the main message of the film, propaganda of national equality and tolerance among the soviet people. However, the plot itself is based on another interesting idea.

“To catch up and overtake [capitalists/America/etc]” is the slogan used for a really long time to explain the motivation of soviet people to work hard to reach the level of the Western countries and to be better then they are in everything.… Read the rest here

Discrimination in the West

Throughout Western history, racism has always been a problem.  The movie Circus took this into account, and criticizes the West for being discriminating and racist against black people, namely against the black baby that the woman in the circus belongs to.  It’s undeniable that there was such discrimination in the West, especially against black people (in the US) and against other minorities such as Jews throughout Europe.  However, that’s not to say that the USSR wasn’t any better.  … Read the rest here

Circus as a metaphor for Soviet Collectiveness

The film “Circus” portrays a white American actress Marion Dixon attempting to integrate into Soviet culture while struggling to conceal the existence of her black child. After fleeing from the racial West (specifically America), Marion moves to Moscow to join the circus with her manager, who blackmails her and threatens to expose her secret. However, Marion’s career in the circus provides her with a sense of community and belonging. When her manager attempts to humiliate her, he exposes her baby to the entire audience and is shocked when the audience warmly embrace the baby and proclaim that they do not discriminate against children.… Read the rest here

Tsirk (1936), Soviets Avoid “Backwardness”

The film Tsirk (1936), though a skillfully crafted story, was without a doubt a propaganda vehicle for the Soviet Union.  The main character Mary appears to be an escapee of an apparently backwards society where she was chased out by an angry mob for having an interracial child. In order to escape from the mob, she jumped on a train where she met what appeared to be a circus actor who took her under his wing.… Read the rest here

“Circus” and the Portrayal of Racism in the West

“Circus” is an exciting, dramatic movie from the 1930s. The main character, an American named Marion Dixon, escapes from America (specifically the South) during the era of Jim Crow laws, as she gave birth to a black child. Working in a circus in the Soviet Union, she conceals the knowledge of her child from almost everyone. In one of the final scenes of the movie, her manager (a German), storms into the ring with her child, attempting to disgrace her.… Read the rest here

Modernization or Neo-traditionalism?

Did the Soviet Union achieve their goal to modernize? According to Terry Martin, author of the article Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism, argues the Soviet Union went did not achieve modernization instead they went to Neotradiononalism. What exactly is needed to reach modernization? Ernest Gellner believes modernization results from industrialization and to have a successful pre-industrial state you must achieve nationalism. Gellner believes one of the reasons the Soviet Union did not become a modernized state was Stalin forced industrialization on to the Soviets to rapidly which destroys cultures necessary to build a new high culture which is needed as the basis for a national identity needed to industrialize.… Read the rest here

Nationalism and the Soviet State

In Trey Martin’s article, “Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism”, he argues that the Soviet state most clearly mirrors a neo-traditional model, primarily evident in the Soviet approach to nationality, which was initiated through industrialization. According to Ernest Gellner’s theory of nationality, industrialization destroyed village folk culture by uprooting peasantry and placing them into an urban industrial environment. This led to the formation of a new high, or shared, culture to establish a base for national identity.… Read the rest here

Modernization or Bust, Right?

The goal for the Soviet Union was to modernize and move to from a pre-indurstial state through modernization to socialism. Was this goal achieved, did the Soviet Union modernize? Martin argues even though the Soviet Union was reaching for beyond modernization, that due to extreme Soviet statism it arrived at a different location; neo-traditionalism.

Ernest Gellner’s theory of nationality states that in reality nations are the inevitable by product of the social organization of industrial society.… Read the rest here

The Soviet Union and Failed Modernization

In its efforts to achieve modernization, the Soviet Union again faced the problem of failed execution. What Stalin and Lenin imagined for their new nation did not occur in reality. In his chapter, “Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism,” Terry Martin discusses the Soviet government’s methods for creating nationalism within the Soviet Union among the various nationalities included in the newly formed Soviet Union. Using quotations from Stalin’s 1913 pamphlet and a 1938 article from the Bolshevik journal, Martin argues that the Party’s shift in its understanding of nationalism as a by-production of modernization to its emphasis on nationalism’s connection with primordial roots.… Read the rest here