The city in Soviet Lithuanian cinema

  • Ilona Vitkauskaitė
Keywords: Soviet period, cinema, city, village, ideology, modernisation


The article analyzes urban representations of Soviet-era Lithuanian cinema. Like any other object of reality, the city in cinema is a secondary reality, the fruit of artistic interpretation. At the same time, images of the city in film can reflect individual and collective consciousness of the period. The analysis of urban space of Lithuanian feature cinema reveals that cinematographic space can be treated as a composite construct, which creates and represents projections of identities and feelings, reflects demands, ideas, cinema fashions of its time and “hides” real sociocultural and sociopolitical discourses. Most of Soviet-style feature films much easier incorporate countryside spaces, images, landscapes and lifestyle. Meanwhile the city often not only creates an impression of a claustrophobic space, but even looks very decorative. It seems that most of filmmakers can’t identify cities with their own, Lithuanian, national living space. In search of identity or inspiration they turn to idealized village, agrarian culture and its images. Therefore, the city of Soviet Lithuanian cinema is more likely to become a space of collapsed hopes, prison, ideological repressive space, which is stuck between the present and the past. Filmmakers, like their characters, run to the shelter of nature, the mythologized, well-decorated farmstead, where archetypal father and mother figures or a calm, meditative landscape await. It seems that movie characters (and filmmakers), who have escaped from the socialist reality and its challenges to the landscapes of nature and village, have never returned.