Cinema of Crisis: Russian Chernukha Cinema, Its Cultural Context and Cross-Cultural Connections

  • Author / Creator
    Isakava, Volha
  • The present work explores Russian cinema of perestroika, specifically the bleak trend known as chernukha. The project offers a comparative analysis of chernukha and film noir, looking into how these cinemas of crisis channel social anxieties in times of transition. It illuminates the significance of chernukha art for understanding the traumatic history of the perestroika and early post-Soviet years, its ties to Russian and international cultural context as well as the function of chernukha’s dark vision in Russian culture. The thesis traces the roots of chernukha cinema to the Russian 19th century natural school, and compares the cinematic trend with the neo-naturalist fiction of the perestroika era and the postmodernist prose of the time. The thesis argues that chernukha cinema relates directly to both representations of history and questions of ethics. Chernukha’s transgressive visceral visual style and pessimistic narratives function as an unmediated traumatic re-enactment of the collapse of the Soviet way of life, offering a nihilistic deconstruction of previous dominant narratives and articulating an ethical breech in cultural expectations and representations. Using the concept of film world I argue that, similar to film noir and neo noir, chernukha presents a film world that is a distinct universe, to which there seems to be no alternative or any counteractive sense of normalcy. To present a systemic study of chernukha cinema in addition to history, cultural context, visual style and narrative strategies, the thesis also examines the patterns of characterization in chernukha cinema and the representations of body, sexuality and gender.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.