Peter Kenez Cinema & Soviet Society, 1917-1953.
Cambridge University Press, 281 pages, $59.95; $18.95 paper
Peter Kenez, author of a new book on Soviet film, is a historian at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has paid a number of visits to the former Soviet Union, three months in 1977, two months in 1985, and time in Leningrad in 1988. In 1985 he published a book called The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917-1929. Working on that subject led to his interest in Soviet films, of which he has viewed an impressive number, mostly at the Pacific Film Archives of the University of California at Berkeley. He also spent two months in the film archives in Budapest in 1987.
Kenez is mostly concerned with the years when Stalin held undisputed power. He concentrates on internal propaganda and fiction films, and his theme is familiar. The Bolsheviks, the...