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The Imperial TraceRecent Russian Cinema$
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Nancy Condee

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366761.001.0001

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Aleksei German: Forensics in the Dynastic Capital

Aleksei German: Forensics in the Dynastic Capital

(p.185) 7 Aleksei German: Forensics in the Dynastic Capital
The Imperial Trace

Condee Nancy

Oxford University Press

In German’s Lapshin and Khrustalev, the child-protagonist witnesses events the meaning of which becomes evident only over decades. A similar ignorance, the filmmaker has suggested, could be found in his earlier Trial on the Road: “one could say that the protagonist’s ignorance is primary for us.” With his meticulous, even forensic reconstitution of the mid-century’s mise-en-scène, German is concerned with how the historical moment is perpetually in excess of our immediate capacity to grasp its content. German’s own work has undergone an oddly analogous accumulation of meaning. As the screening exodus at Cannes (1998) painfully suggested, his audience saw Khrustalev in a naïve, ignorant manner unavailable to us as we watch the film today. German typically takes stories from the older, metropolitan elite who became the Soviet intelligentsia, and tells them to an art-house audience who, however unintentionally, ceased to be the Soviet intelligentsia. For the educated, metropolitan children of that first Soviet generation, the future as conceived by their fathers gradually became a weakened operative concept. That Soviet future, recaptured by German at the historical moment of most ambitious construction, is screened as an homage to the verdancy, ignorance, and naiveté of the fathers.

Keywords:   Aleksei German, Khrustalev, metropolitan, intelligentsia, auteur

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