Reviews

This article aims at exploring the Soviet imaginary (qualified ‘colonial’).  It is based on three films : Turksib by V. Turin (Vostokkino, 1929), Salt for Svanetia by M. Kalatozov (Goskinoprom Gruzii, 1929) and Three Songs for Lenin by Dziga Vertov (Mezhrapbom,1934).  The author provides an interesting depiction of the imaginary conveyed by these films (and by others as well) in which the Central Asian (or Caucasian) peoples are represented as the bearer of Oriental (Muslim as Christian) tradition and ‘backwardness’.  Central Asia and the Caucasus, and their cultures appear as ‘vestiges of the past’, places of timeless stagnation, starvation or death, lacking even salt or water which could be brought there thanks to the Soviet industrial policy (in this very case, by the First Five Year Plan).  This backwardness could be seen as a legitimation of the violent Soviet policy of modernisation, as well as a manifestation of Stalin’s conception of Russia’s leading role for Central Asians (Caucasians) to catch up the ‘train’ of progress—this process being comprehended as a war or as a struggle.  The rhetoric of war in the vocabulary involved is well sensitive in many titles: ‘war on the primitive’, ‘the attack begins!’ as Turksib’s titles tell.  The use of images of machinery (planes, trains) and sciences (maps, graphics, etc.) is a ‘proof’ of the more advanced development’s stage of Russia.  The three films analyzed here appear, in a way, as a filmic colonisation of Central Asian and the Caucasus.

Cloé Drieu, French Institute of Central Asian Studies, Tashkent – Paris
CER: I-4.6-386