Classics of Soviet Cinema

This course will present an overview of four Soviet films from four key periods of Soviet history:

1) The post-revolutionary years – Battleship Potemkin (1925), directed by Sergei Eisenstein.

2) The Stalin era – Circus (1936), directed by Grigory Alexandrov. 

3) The Krushchev Thaw – The Cranes are Flying (1957), directed by Mikhail Kalatozov.

4) The Brezhnev era – Andrei Rublev (1966), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.

The course will focus on the historical context in which the films were produced. All films are available for streaming* and should be viewed from home before class. We will discuss the films during class. Historical and other background materials will be provided in advance of each film discussion.

Streaming Options:

  • Battleship Potemkin - Amazon Prime
  • Circus (Grigory Aleksandrov, 1936)  - Substituting this instead of Volga Volga.
    I have a DVD copy of the film which I will live stream over Zoom during a mutually convenient extra session prior to the class. The film is also available for free over YouTube, though the subtitles aren't great and the film is interrupted with ads.  If you subscribe to a free trial of YouTube Premium, you can see the film without ads.
  • The Cranes are Flying - The Criterion Channel. 
    Suggest subscribing to a free version of The Criterion Channel to see this film and Andrei Rublev.
  • Andrei Rublev - Amazon Prime and The Criterion Channel.  The Criterion Channel has more supplemental materials, but the film can also be viewed over Amazon Prime.

Both Criterion Channel and Amazon Prime have free trials - Criterion for 14 days and Amazon Prime for 30 days. That should be long enough to view the one film on Criterion and the three requiring Amazon Prime. If anyone wants to extend the subscriptions, Criterion costs $10.99/month and Prime Video costs $8.99/month.

Class Recordings:

Class 1 - February 2

Class 2 - February 9

Class 3 - February 16

Class 4 - February 23

Class 5 - March 2


Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/2/2021
Sessions: 5
Class Size: unlimited
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 2 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Cathy Mannick is an angel investor and former international lawyer with 20 years of experience representing U.S. businesses in the former Soviet Union. She currently chairs the Advisory Board of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and is a trustee of the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts. Cathy earned her undergraduate degree in Russian Studies from Yale University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She also earned an M.A. in history from Harvard, where she was a tutor in the History and Literature Department focusing on early 20th century Russian and Soviet history.