Searching for the Ideal: Fluidity of Women’s Social Role Through the Lens of Fashion on Soviet Screens (Stagnation, 1964-1985)

Sat9  Apr04:20pm(20 mins)
Where:
Umney Lounge
Mrs Natasha Vinnikova

Authors

Natasha Vinnikova

Discussion

“The cinema has, from the very beginning, been credited with a particularly powerful influence over its audience.” - it was consciously employed by Soviet leaders as weapon of propaganda and a moulding tool. (Atwood 1993).

As the discrepancy between the “utopian ideas” and reality deepened and ideological control became stricter, women’s representation during the era of Stagnation (1964-1985) became more complex. Stagnation films prosper in the reflection of social issues, women’s everyday life, the contradiction of Soviet women’s constitutionally equal rights within the persisting patriarchal traditions, societal preoccupation with consumerism and uncovers protagonists’ personal affairs through the genres of comedy and melodrama.

The films in my research enjoyed box office success, and bridged “the ideal woman” with everyday reality. The Soviet women used these films as negotiating strategies (de Certeau 1988), evoking fluidity in women’s role in Soviet Society. In order to acknowledge the dynamics of women’s positions, the paper examines women’s portrayal in Stagnation cinema by applying the concept of symbolical “ordinary” and “extraordinary” women (Haskell 1999).

Whilst Stagnation films were under strict censorship, characters’ sartorial choices produce excellent ideological references. Embedded in an unofficial, faster-moving modernity, everyday fashion finds its place within everyday life and its rituals (Bartlett 2010), trickling in the contemporary cinema.

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