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Stalin- Transcripts from Soviet Archives
Fake film (About the motion picture ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ by ʺMosfilmʺ studio)
ʺTrueʺ. August 16, 1940
Recently, a new motion picture ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ, released by the ʺMosfilmʺ studio, has appeared on the screens. A film with such a promising title was directed by A. Avdeenko, directed by A. Stolper and B. Ivanov.
The picture ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ could be considered just one of the bad pictures released recently, if not for some of the features of this film. The author of the painting, A. Avdeenko, undertook to interpret the laws of life, to teach young people, to assert those moral canons, which, in his opinion, should be followed by the countryʹs youth. But the moral of the film is false, and the film itself is fake through and through. To be precise, the film ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ is a slander against our student youth.
The filmʹs slanderous nature is particularly evident in the scenes of a party for medical graduates. The filmmakers portrayed the graduatesʹ evening at the institute as a drunken orgy; students and female students get drunk to hallucinations. The filmmakers relish these details, over and over again in dozens of frames they show scenes of reckless drunken binge. And according to the film, neither the administration of the institute, nor public organizations, nor the students themselves, tomorrowʹs doctors, not only do not stop, do not stop this outrage, but they themselves take an active part in it. Where did the authors see such scenes? Where did the authors see that our student youth resembled the scum of bourgeois morality they portrayed? These scenes are a slander against Soviet student youth. The leading Komsomol worker Ognerubov, a cynic, an internally rotten person, an enemy who corrupts the youth, through everyday life, tries to instill in them enemy ideas, incites the student youth into drunkenness and decomposition. The authors of the film give full scope to their hero Ognerubov, who preaches disorderly love and debauchery. According to the film, it turns out that this enemy sermon by Ognerubov reliably finds access to the hearts and minds of students, tomorrowʹs doctors, and Ognerubovʹs ʺprinciplesʺ are implemented right there, in the audience, in a drunken orgy. In these, and in the subsequent scenes of the film, one can see a kind of revival of Artsybashevism, which at one time they tried to poison young people, to turn them away from politics, from the revolutionary movement by preaching sexual promiscuity.
Among the Soviet student youth, the authors of The Law of Life were unable to find real, positive, bright people whom our country is rightfully proud of. Except for Sergei Paromov (about whom below), only such a character as Cheryomushkin is singled out in the film. The filmmakers endowed him with all kinds of comedic tricks. Cheryomushkin, one of Ognerubovʹs drinking companions, is called upon to play the role of ʺthe soul of the tavern society.ʺ Everything that is funny in the picture comes from Cheryomushkin. The lot of all the other characters is gloomy meditation. Cheryomushkinʹs lot is to amuse the audience. But this supposedly positive character burdens the picture with silly and pathetic witticisms. In such an environment, Ognerubov could live and prosper. But the fact of the matter is that this environment is invented, false, that it does not exist in nature.
In contrast to Ognerubov, the authors brought out in the film the Komsomol organizer Sergei Paromov, who is supposed to serve as the personification of our new morality, to represent a fighting Komsomol, a man of big heart and noble feelings. But it’s strange, while the enemy of Ognerubov is portrayed as such an enticing Pechorin, Komsomol organizer Sergei Paromov, like his comrades, is shown in the film as a weak‐willed person and often a dim‐witted simpleton. Before his eyes, under the guise of supposedly Marxist ideology, they preach the moral decay of youth. Before his eyes, an ugly general student drunkenness is taking place, and he, Paromov, does not find the strength to actively resist Ognerubov, to stop the drunkenness. His moralizing in the film is helpless and colorless.
How could this have happened? And this happened because the real sympathies of the author of the film are on the side of Ognerubov, no matter how hard he tried to hide it with obscure maxims. Yes, the author made Ognerubov, who is morally and politically alien to Soviet youth, as the hero of his picture, called ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ. He, Ognerubov, according to the author of the film, is the ʺruler of thoughtsʺ of the youth, very easily captures the sympathies of the audience, conquering the youth without any difficulty with his charm, generously given to him by the author of the film.
The scriptwriter and directors endowed the devastated and vile enemy with the qualities of a ʺstrong manʺ, ennobling him in every possible way even by the end of the film, when, after watching a good threequarters of the picture, the viewer finally sees (much to his surprise) that Ognerubov is being exposed. Of course, there is a Komsomol meeting. Of course, heated speeches are made. Of course, evil is punished, but virtue triumphs. But even then Ognerubovʹs assistants remain unrevealed and unpunished. And Ognerubov himself, remaining alone, retains, according to the authors of the film, pride, dignity, and even nobility. This pose is false through and through, it was invented by the ʺcreatorsʺ of the film. For people like Ognerubov, for all their harmfulness, are petty. When they are exposed, they crawl on their knees, flowing down and crying out to pity, for they are afraid to be alone with themselves.
At the end of the film, the authors, paying tribute to the spirit of the times, reluctantly expose Ognerubov, thereby trying to adapt to our Soviet reality, to obscure the true deeply harmful essence of the picture. However, the exposure of Ognerubov in the film is not motivated by anything ‐ neither the logic of the dramatic action, nor the situations of the film, nor the truth of life, which is a companion of true art. The authors, apparently, hoped that they would be able to deceive the viewer with a ʺhappy endingʺ. But here, too, the authors miscalculated. Our viewer has grown up and is able to appreciate such a fake film.
It is all the more painful that some newspapers regarded the film ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ as an ʺeventʺ in Soviet cinematography. So, for example, the newspaper ʺKinoʺ found in the picture ʺsincerityʺ, ʺtemperamentʺ, ʺgenuine truthfulnessʺ, ʺdeep knowledge of the material.ʺ If the editorial staff of the Kino newspaper (as well as the Committee on Cinematography Affairs, which governs it) thoughtfully and conscientiously treated the films released on the screen, would it have allowed the praise of a contrived and harmful film that distorts our reality, slandering our student youth!
After all, why is the film called The Law of Life? What is the essence of the so‐called ʺlaw of lifeʺ? As you can see, the content of the ʺlaw of lifeʺ is formulated by Ognerubov: he has the right to love disorderly, he has the right to change girls, he has the right to leave them after he uses them, since the ʺlaw of lifeʺ consists in pleasure, turning into licentiousness ... In fact, the filmmakers had to end the film with the triumph of the ʺlaw of lifeʺ, the triumph of Ognerubovʹs philosophy. But since the authors of the film are cowardly before our public opinion, they paid tribute to him and ended the matter with the failure of Ognerubov and his ʺlaw of life.ʺ This is the basis of the filmʹs falsity. Why, we repeat, is the film called ʺthe law of lifeʺ? After all, the law of life must be highly vital and irresistible. Isnʹt it strange that the ʺlaw of lifeʺ of the filmmakers turned out to be a dummy, having no power? Is it not clear that the ʺlaw of lifeʺ of the filmmakers does not in the least resemble the actual law of life? This is not a law of life, but a rotten philosophy of licentiousness.