Russia’s funniest and most popular films are the work of Èl’dar Riazanov, a director whose light, lyrical tales of love lost and found have garnered audiences of over one hundred million. Although Western scholars have largely ignored Riazanov’s oeuvre in favour of more serious filmmakers, no director in Russia has been so loved by both the public (openly) and politicians (covertly). His early comedies mapped the relations between society and socialism, allowing him to create a radically apolitical art of kindness and kindred spirits. David MacFadyen investigates what made Riazanov’s films so wildly popular and what – if any – relationship that popularity had to Soviet policy. Using the works of Deleuze, Lacan, and Kristeva, MacFadyen looks at how Riazanov’s films relate to society, audience demand, and Soviet politics. In more than twenty love stories that have precious little to do with statecraft, Soviet or otherwise, Riazanov captures the willful inclusiveness of socialist culture.
The Department of Comparative Literature
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