Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Maria Cizmic, Ph.D.


Bolshevism, Communism, Communist propaganda, Sovietism, Film, Peter Bacso, Milos Forman, Jan Nemec, Istvan Szabo, Bela Tarrr, Andrzej Wajda, Janusz Zaorski


This study examines resistance against totalitarian propaganda in select movies produced in regions subjected to Soviet-imposed totalitarian system. From 1939 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Central-Eastern Europe has experienced two of the most devastating and genocidal political systems in the history of the humankind. Nazism was destroyed with the end of WWII, and met widespread condemnation. Sovietism, commonly known as Communism, survived WWII and the Soviet totalitarian empire rose to the position of the world's second superpower. Effective and organized Soviet propaganda generated a new convincing image of Sovietism as a harmless, friendly and progressive system. In this situation, the extremely important role of maintaining moral consciousness has fallen to the artistic world, specifically film. The scope of my thesis is to explore and analyze the responses to the Soviet totalitarianism in movies produced in European states of the Soviet bloc, between 1956 and 1989.

My thesis aims to offer a critical reading of the chosen movies as well as their historical and political conditions. I point out how filmmakers articulated their resistance and analyze it in the context of national culture. The movies I chose to discuss express the reality of everyday life during the Soviet era. Their dissection reflects the mutual influence of history and art in general and in the Soviet bloc in particular. Hence, I offer a reading of the past expressed in the subjective vision of the cinematographic art. Movies not only reflect certain fragments of the reality, they also play an important role in constructing a collective memory. Discussing them from this angle leads to an understanding of the current perception of the past in those countries.