The Ultimate Russian Cinema Guide

Author: waytorussia (on 20 Jul 2015)
There are words which are hardly translatable and usually those words mean something very specific about the culture they come from. One such Russian word is "надрыв" ("nad'ryv"), which literally means a slight tear, as in something that has been torn. Apart from the literal meaning it is also used to describe inner tension, sort of a strong emotional intensity, not unlike Hitchhock's suspense, but something even more carnal and deep.

It is this suspended inner bodily tension, or nadryv, which has defined Russian cinema from the moment of its inception to the present day. That special type of tension is visible on all levels: from the way the stories are told and the actors' play, to the formal aesthetics of images and even the social and political circumstances that surrounded Soviet and then Russian filmmaking.

Of course, tension is at the core of any art form, but there is something very particular about the Russian cinema's nadryv (which is, by the way, usually translated to English as "anguish" or "collapse") - perhaps because it had to do less with the fiction and more with the real life.

In fact, there is no better way to understand recent Russian history than to trace the development of the Soviet and then Russian cinema. From the early experiments with the form by Eisenstein and Vertov, to the surreal cinema of Tarkovsky and Parajanov, to the latest forays into epic narratives Russian cinema has been like a litmus paper for all the joys, pains, adventures and confusions that the Russian society had to go through.

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