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The Sounds of Music Soundtrack and Song in Soviet Film

The Sounds of Music Soundtrack and Song in Soviet Film

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The Sounds of Music: Soundtrack and Song in Soviet FilmAuthor(s): David C. GillespieReviewed work(s):Source:
Slavic Review,
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 473-490Published by:Stable URL:
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This content downloaded on Fri, 14 Dec 2012 05:08:51 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions
 
The SoundsofMusic:SoundtrackandSongin SovietFilm
David C.GillespieFilm and Music underStalin:PlayingIdeology'sTuneInSovietcinema,theimportanceof music exercisedcritical mindsevenbeforethecomingof sound.In1926the Austrian-bornEdmundMeiselwrotea musicalscore that heperformedwithorchestra for theBerlinshowingofBronenosetsPotemkin(BattleshipPotemkin,1925)whichhugelyimpressedthe directorSergeiEizenshtein,and Meisel wasasked to com-posea score for Oktiabr'(October)ayearlater.Eizenshteinsubsequentlybegan formulatinghis own views onthe role of sound andmusicin film.Inthe late1920s,theanticipatedarrivalof movies withsynchronizedsoundgaverise to much debate on the role ofmusic,withEizenshtein,VsevolodPudovkin,andGrigoriiAleksandrovputtingtheir names toajoint"state-ment on sound" in1928.These directorssawthe role of soundand musicasintegratedwithin themontagestructureof afilm,thereby headingofftheperceived challengethat sound couldprovidetofilmmontage.As thestatement makes clear:"Onlythecontrapuntaluse of sound vis-a-vis thevisualfragmentofmontagewillopen upnewpossibilitiesforthedevel-opmentandperfectionofmontage.Thefirstexperimentsinsoundmustaim at asharpdiscord with the visualimages."'Soviet cinema didnot, therefore,regardsound and music aspassiveor"silent";itwas to do more thansimply providewhatRoyalS.Browncallsthe"dramaticallymotivated musicalbacking"thatwouldcharacterizeHollywoodfilms.2 InSovietfilmssound would be endowed with anorga-nizingor structuralfunction.Filmwasintended toeducatethemassesin"high"culturalvalues, and,underIosif Stalin,thiswent handinhand withthe "true andhistoricallyconcretedepictionofrealityin itsrevolution-arydevelopment."Music, too,had toplayitspart.Music could enhanceand even determineanalysis,comment,andjudgment,"inthespiritofcommunism."3Inthisarticle,Iseektoanalyzethe role ofmusic,inparticular song,inSovietfilmblockbusters,especiallyof the1970s.Ihave chosenfilms wherethe music isdeliberately foregrounded,so that it assumes both astructuraland anorganizingrolewithin thenarrative.Inaddition,Ihave chosen toconcentrate on filmsthat feature"urban"songsandthose thatdepictvillagelife,oftenaccompanied byawidediversityof folkmusicalgenres.Inall thefilmschosen,the musicisendowed with both anemotional(for
Iamparticularlyindebted toNatashaZaslavskaiaand ElenaSmirnova of theUniversityofBathfor theirinvaluableassistance withanalyzing popularsongand itsrelevanceinSovietculture ofthe 1970s.1."Statement on Sound"(bySergeiEizenshtein,VsevolodPudovkin,andGrigoriiAleksandrov),inRichardTaylor,ed.,TheEisensteinReaderLondon,1998),81.2.RoyalS.Brown,OvertonesndUndertones:ReadingFilmMusic(Berkeley,1994),14.3. C.Vaughan James,SovietSocialistRealism:OriginsandTheoryLondon,1973),88.SlavicReview62,no. 3(Fall2003)
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474SlavicReviewthepurposesofviewerrecognitionandidentification)and anintellectual(toaidunderstandingandinterpretation,and so toconstructmeaning)function.TheSoviet Union'sgreatestcomposers,SergeiProkof'evandDmitriiShostakovich,both workedextensivelyinfilm,theformerbecomingre-nownedfor hiscontribution to Eizenshtein's AleksandrNevskii(1938)andIvanGroznyi(IvantheTerrible,1944-45)andShostakovichbeginningaproductivecollaboration withGrigoriiKozintsevin1929that would lastuntilthe1970s. Thecollaboration betweenEizenshtein and Prokof'ev hasbeendescribed as "one of thehighlightsin thehistoryof thecinema,bothbecause ofthequalityof the music itself(bothAleksandr Nevskii and Ivanthe Terrible have beenarrangedinto concertsuites),andbecauseoftheingenuous wayinwhichitwas used."4 David Bordwellhas further notedthatinAleksandr Nevskii Prokof'ev'smusic "creates motifsalignedwiththetwo forces: the folkish tunes ofthe Russians versus theGerman invaders'Catholichymn."5Furthermore,thecomposer'slow,ominous brassandwoodwindsdepictthe TeutonicKnightsasirredeemablyevil,justas Ed-uardTisse's camerawork caricaturesthemingrotesqueand monstrousimages.Tension isheightenedinthe climacticbattleontheicethroughrushingorchestralpassages,suddencrescendos,andabrupt pauses.Ivan theTerriblecontainsanarrayof musicalgenres: religiouschants,chorales,soldiers'songs,churchbells, lullabies,and orchestralpassagesall form elementsof the narrative ofbothparts,anditis oftenunclearwhethertheyareactuallypartofthefilm's "reelreality"(thediegesis)orimposedonthe soundtrack(non-diegetic).Itwasin these scenesthatEizenshteinattemptedtocreate"acompleteharmonyofsound andcolour."6Prokof'ev'smusic remains"intellectual"initsconception, designedasastructuralmotifto aidininterpretingthefilm's themes.Herehe can becomparedwithDmitriiShostakovich,whosegreatestinnovationsin filmmusic werenot in the areaof soundtrackand scorebutindiegeticmusic,particularlysongs.The best-knownmusicalelement ofthe MaksimTrilogy(1934-38)is the urbansong"Krutitsia-vertitsiashargoluboi,"arrangedbyShostakovich,whichopensthe secondfilm ofthetrilogy,VozvrashchenieMaksima(Thereturn ofMaksim,1937).Muchof thisfilm is shotin asmoke-filledbar,and these scenesareregularly punctuatedbysongsthat,togetherwithbilliardsanddrinking,offeran affirmationofmaleworking-classculture.This andothersongs,especiallythoseperformedon theguitarbyMikhailZharov,containadirectappealto theemotions
4.Brown,OvertonesndUndertones,44.5.DavidBordwell,The CinemaofEisenstein(Cambridge,Mass.,1993),220.6. OrlandoFiges,Natasha'sDance:A CulturalHistory ofRussia(London,2002),496.TatianaEgorovaalsonotes thatthe scoreforIvantheTerribleas"originalandinnovatory":"the musicof thatlastgreatjointcreative effortbyEisensteinandProkofievbrokethees-tablished,stereotypednotionsof thefunctionalroleoffilmmusic,enablingit toapproachthenatureof asound-visualimagebasedonasynthesisof ahigherorder."See TatianaK.Egorova,SovietFilm Music:AnHistoricalSurvey,trans.TatianaA. Ganfand NataliaA.Egunova(Amsterdam,1997),113.
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