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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 Balabanov: The Metropole’s Death Drive

Aleksei Balabanov: The Metropole’s Death Drive

(p.217) 8 Aleksei Balabanov: The Metropole’s Death Drive
The Imperial Trace

Condee Nancy

Oxford University Press

Balabanov’s post-Soviet cinema explores a redefined contract with the state that elaborates its gothic potential. Many of his characters encounter the state through conviction, conscription, and reinstitutionalization in prison, the army, and other compelled activities requiring no exquisite ideology to galvanize their ranks. While examples abound of Balabanov’s so-called nationalism (“I am against things foreign”), that attribution founders on his express, recurrent desire to “make only negative things.” If the normal associations with the stirrings of nationalism in Balabanov’s work are predominantly mocked, absent, or exalted with familiar imperial superiority, then what kind of “nationalism” is critically attributed to Balabanov? Notably, his demonstrative xenophobia operates in two contrastive registers: Russian domestic politics and a politics of global cinema. In the former, Balabanov performs as a member of the urban imperial rabble, bent on keeping old superiorities in place. In the latter, Balabanov is the provincial provocateur who would fight for a cinema in which elite indulgences are not so dominantly the prerogative of Hollywood’s global empire.

Keywords:   Aleksei Balabanov, post-Soviet, Danila Bagrov, Sergei Bodrov, nationalism

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