Blockbuster History in the New Russia

Blockbuster History in the New Russia

Movies, Memory, and Patriotism
Stephen M. Norris
Distribution: World
Publication date: 9/28/2012
ISBN: 978-0-253-00708-7
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Seeking to rebuild the Russian film industry after its post-Soviet collapse, directors and producers sparked a revival of nationalist and patriotic sentiment by applying Hollywood techniques to themes drawn from Russian history. Unsettled by the government’s move toward market capitalism, Russians embraced these historical blockbusters, packing the American-style multiplexes that sprouted across the country. Stephen M. Norris examines the connections among cinema, politics, economics, history, and patriotism in the creation of "blockbuster history"—the adaptation of an American cinematic style to Russian historical epics.

Author Bio

Stephen M. Norris is Professor of History at Miami University of Ohio. He is author of A War of Images: Russian Popular Prints, Wartime Culture, and National Identity and editor (with Willard Sunderland) of Russia's People of Empire: Life Stories from Eurasia, 1500 to the Present (IUP, 2012).


"Norris composes a history of post-Soviet cinema in Russia while writing a history of Russian patriotic ideas. . . . smart, superbly researched, richly contextualized." —Serguei Oushakine, author of The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in Russia

"Norris selects films that focus on the Russian past from long ago to the more recent. By situating these films in their political, economic, and social contexts, he paints a fascinating picture of present-day Russia. . . . A superb book." —Denise J. Youngblood, author of Russian War Films: On the Cinema Front

"Blockbuster History is not merely a study of the appropriation of a Hollywood genre by Russian cinema, but also, and more importantly, an analysis of modern Russia’s political conflicts, protest movements, memory and national identity as seen through the prism of film." —Times Literary Supplement TLS

"Stephen Norris’s book provides an excellent survey of an important trend in Russian cinema in the last fifteen years: the blockbuster." —The Russian Review

"Stephen Norris has produced a valuable book based on extensive research." —History: Reviews of New Books

"The book stands out among the growing film scholarship on the period by virtue of the fact that its author is an historian, which allows him to contextualize particularly well the films he analyses, and also for its valuable attention to the recent development of Russian cinema as an industry, and how that development has influenced the trajectory of Russian cinema as an art form. . . . Overall, Blockbuster History should be of great interest and value to students and scholars not only of Russian cinema, but of the cultural politics of twenty-first century Russia more generally." —Slavonica

"Norris, as a historian, conducts a thorough research study using primary and secondary sources. . . . He assembles a huge amount of materials and organizes them in a logical way, following several tracks but never losing sight of the main argument. For all its complexity, the book is an easy read thanks to its light prose, spiced with humor and subtle irony." —Slavic Review

"Blockbuster History in the New Russia . . . should be on the reading list of every student of contemporary Russian culture. . . . The book is a pleasure to read. Norris is an excellent storyteller who appropriately and elegantly introduces thousands of details into his narrative to keep the reader interested." —Slavic and East European Journal

"[Norris] offers a compact and legible inventory of the [historic cinematic] experiment . . . ." —H-Soz-u-Kult

"Norris’s writing style has a breeziness that makes all of this material go down easily. Nevertheless,

his work is based on impressive and thoroughly cited research." —
Film & History

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Multiplexing Russia
Part 1. The Russia That We Lost
2. The First Blockbuster of the New Nation
3. Terrorism Then and Now
4. Wars and Gambits
5. A Requiem for Communism
Part 2. The Price of War
6. Mirror of War
7. Playing with History
Part 3. Back in the USSR
8. The Blessed Blockbuster
9. The Soviet Horror Show
Part 4. Fantasy Pop History
10. Animating the Past
11. The Look of Fantasy
12. The Business of Patriotism
13. The Production of the Past
14. Conclusion: Packaging the Past