Oleksii Isakov


Viadrina Center of Polish and Ukrainian Studies (VCPU)

PhD Candidate

Film Adaptations not on the Subject of Soviet Reality: The Representation of Pre-Soviet Reality in Ukrainian Poetic Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s

The dissertation project is dedicated to Ukrainian poetic cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, which was a prominent movement in Ukrainian and Soviet film history. Unexpected artistic freedom, allegorism and aesthetic ambiguity, combined with avant-garde cinematic techniques and Ukrainian national motifs, were both alluring and disturbing. The filmmakers of this period achieved a completely new aesthetic in their films that went far beyond the typical socialist realism style with its „positive, optimistic (socialist) heroes, comprehensibility, simplicity and catchy subjects and motifs as well as pedagogical effectiveness” [Murašov, Jurij (2010): Sozialistische Politik, osteuropäisches Kino und Deleuzes Filmphilosophie. In: Drubek-Meyer, Natascha; Murašov, Jurij (Hg), page 6.]. 

In total, between 10 and 15 feature-length films are attributed to Ukrainian poetic cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. These films mostly date from the years 1964-1972 and were made by directors such as Serhij Paradžanov, Leonid Osyka, Jurij Illjenko, Volodymyr Denysenko, Mykola
Maščenko, Borys Ivčenko, Rollan Serhijenko and Ivan Mykolajčuk. Approximately one-third of these films were banned immediately after production for ideological reasons and were only publicly shown during the late perestroika years or in independent Ukraine after 1991. 

This project focuses on the historical contextualisation of the filmmaking process in the 1960s and 1970s, and the complex relationships between filmmakers and the state cinema authorities. Primarily, films with pre-Soviet themes will be studied, as they were particularly significant in the general movement for Ukrainian national self-determination in the post-Stalinist era. Most
of these films are based on Ukrainian literary works from the 19th and early 20th centuries.