The Soviet Circus Welcomes all Nationalities

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Pictured: Jimmy, Marion and Martinov

The film Circus, produced by the Soviet Union in 1936, was made in order to propagate the Union’s ideals and acceptance of all nationalities. The main hero, Marion Dixon, is chased out of the United States because of racial intolerance against her black son, Jimmy. Marion stumbles across Fronk Kneishitz, a wealthy German, who offers to take her traveling around the world and conceal the identity of her son in order to avoid persecution.… Read the rest here

Life’s a Circus

Theatrical poster for Circus

Theatrical poster for Circus

The 1936 Russian Soviet film, Circus, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and Isidor Simkov, tells the story of a famous American performer, Marion Dixon, as she flees from the United States after persecution from giving birth to a black child. She goes with a corrupt theatrical agent, Franz von Kneishitz, who looks suspiciously like Adolf Hitler, to Russia where she becomes a circus performer. After falling in love with another performer, Ivan Petrovich Martinov, von Kneishitz becomes jealous and not only prevents her from staying with Petrovich, but actively abuses Marion, despite claiming to love her.… Read the rest here

Come one, come all

Aleksandrov and Simkov’s 1936 work of “Circus” combines the elements of farce, comedy, vaudeville, and melodrama in order to produce a ubiquitously enjoyable, light-hearted tale of heroism in the face of adversity laced with prominent themes of existing world politics and the Soviet socialist cause. The simple plot revolves mainly around the exploits of a fictitious American circus performer, Marion Dixon, and her engagements in love and peril as she tries to seek sanctuary in the Soviet Union in an attempt to escape the bigoted derision she faces in America at the cause of her being the mother to a black child.… Read the rest here

The Great Russian Melting Pot

The 1936 Soviet film “Circus” follows Marion Dixon, an American woman who flees to the USSR after giving birth to a biracial child. Once in Russia, Marion becomes a popular circus artist and falls in love with a fellow performer, Petrovich Martynov. The film was laced with comical antics and melodramatic, intertwining romances, but the end blatantly revealed underlying political messages concerning race and nationality, and the power of the Soviet government to inspire and mobilize its population.… Read the rest here

Beating the System: Socialist Realism

During the Soviet Union, especially the Stalin era, the state controlled members of all professions- including artists, architects, writers, musicians, and directors.  Members of these professions were forced to join unions and would be expelled from the unions if they did not follow their strict rules.  Basically, the rules stated that all art had to glorify the state.  Artists who wrote about other topics were expelled from the unions and their careers were ruined.  Artists who dared criticize the state were sent to the gulags.… Read the rest here