Families Lost and Found: Orphans and Orphanhood in Post-Soviet Cinema

Kirsten Rutsala


The motif of absent fathers occurs in many Russian films, especially those produced during the Thaw, reflecting the reality of families destroyed and fragmented by World War II and the Terror. The nuclear family functions as a microcosm of the state, and in its turn the state is represented as a family; the absent father frequently stands for Stalin, the “Father of Nations,” whose death has left the orphaned country in turmoil. In Russian cinema of the 1990s and 2000s, the motifs of fragmented families and orphaned children occur frequently, often representing the loss of security and defining cultural narratives in the post-Soviet landscape. This article examines the subject of both functional and actual orphanhood in Andrei Zviagintsev’s film The Return and Andrei Kravchuk’s film The Italian as it parallels the post-Soviet experience of uncertainty, rejection of previously held societal beliefs, and longing to return to the "small family," rather than the Soviet collective “great family” (to borrow Katerina Clark's terms from her seminal work The Soviet Novel).

Paraules clau

Zviagintsev, Kravchuk, cinema, family, orphan

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/%25x

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Copyright (c) 2019 Kirsten Rutsala

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