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Unorthodox iconography: Russian Orthodox icons in Battleship Potemkin.

In his autobiography Immoral Memories, Sergei Eisenstein explains the influence of the Orthodox Eucharist on his films:
 from such moments springs my lifelong weakness
 for the ornate in religious services: the sunbeams
 cutting down through the smoke of incense, the
 standing columns of dust or mist, the luxuriant
 shocks of priestly hair (from the priest in Potemkin
 to the religious procession in Ivan the Terrible),
 and a passion for sacristies, chasubles, dalmatics,
 omophorions and epitrachelions. All these I included
 in my films. (201-02)

Such a statement may seem surprising from a self-avowed atheist, but as he notes, his youth was a time of "almost hysterical religiosity" (Immoral Memories 201).

Using the above comments as a starting point, Rosamund Bartlett suggests that Russian Orthodoxy serves as the source for his cinematic ideal, pointing to "his interest in mysticism and ecstasy, and his heavy use of symbolism, which is a cornerstone of Russian Orthodox aesthetics" (67). For her point of comparison, Bartlett juxtaposes Eisenstein's theoretical writings with the theological work of Pavel Florensky, finding that Eisenstein's early emphasis on an organic unity of film compares favorably to Florensky's focus on the ability of the liturgical elements to come together and form a larger whole (70). Furthermore, Bartlett argues that "Eisenstein's use of symbolic images in his films might from a purely technical point of view be compared to the function of icons in the Orthodox liturgy, which are similarly highly stylized" (73).

Other prominent Eisenstein scholars have studied the icon's influence on his films, including Kristin Thompson in Ivan the Terrible. A Neoformalist Analysis and Joan Neuberger in Ivan the Terrible. The Film Companion. Rather than trace their well-known analyses, I would like to return to Eisenstein's quote from Immoral Memories and ask if we can find similar uses of iconography in Battleship Potemkin, the other film he specifically mentions as exhibiting his passion for Orthodox imagery and tradition. In one sense, we can immediately answer in the negative since the diegetic world of Potemkin, unlike that of Ivan the Terrible, contains no actual Orthodox icons even if some objects in the film, such as a crucifix and the paten destroyed by the soldier washing dishes, are associated with Orthodox practice. The film blatantly uses such images to criticize the Russian Orthodox Church and its complicity in the tsarist government's oppression of its citizens, an expected characteristic given that the film is a commemoration of the 1905 Communist revolution. From the anachronistic priest (Figure 1), whose appearance would be appropriate to the Old Testament; to the crucifix, which the priest wields as a weapon; to the communion plate, which reminds the soldiers of their gross mistreatment; religious symbols and figures are overtly cast as controlling forces whose primary function is to help those in power maintain it. As Bartlett explains, even the most passive viewer of Eisenstein's work will be familiar with such symbolism: "the church, whether Russian Orthodox (as in Potemkin) or Catholic (as in Alexander Nevsky) is invariably portrayed in Eisenstein's films as immoral, corrupt, and obscurantist through withering cameos of its representatives that are often deliberately and provocatively blasphemous" (70).

Although discussions of these portrayals abound, few have investigated the film's use of religious symbols in a positive light. As Mikael Enckell argues, "we have preferred to focus on the anti-church tendencies in, for instance, the parodic portrait of the ship's priest in Potemkin ..." rather than investigating Eisenstein's use of Christian tradition in presenting his heroes (123). With this article, I hope to fill a void in Potemkin scholarship by carrying out such an investigation through an analysis of the film's subtler uses of Russian Orthodox iconography, primarily Eisenstein's borrowing of poses, clothing, and light often found in Russian religious art. Through this adaptation of iconography conventions, Eisenstein portrays the Potemkin crew and Odessa citizens as holy. By doing so, he plays the role not only of iconoclast but also iconographer by reappropriating the power of the Russian Orthodox Church to support Soviet Communism. As I will show, this new use of iconography is consistent with Eisenstein's writings that art should seek to create new views by creating contradictions in its audience. However, I will also argue that this reappropriation forges an uneasy relationship between the religious ideals that Communism opposes and the pro-Communist message he attempts to portray, thereby creating a connection between the two that threatens to redirect the ecstasy he hopes to evoke to the very set of beliefs he opposes.

By examining the use of the iconography tradition in Potemkin, this analysis will fulfill Bartlett's suggestion that an investigation similar to Ksana Blank's "Lev Tolstoy's Suprematist Icon-Painting," in which Blank analyzes Tolstoy's use of Orthodox iconography tradition in his writing, should be applied to Eisenstein's work (74). While Tolstoy's work featured "icon-painting devices ... representing not the 'worldly' (zhiteiskoe) but the higher spiritual reality--what has traditionally been the prerogative of the icon" (Blank 77-78), I hope to show that Eisenstein's work features similar devices that represent the worldly reality not at the expense of the spiritual reality but in order to unite the two in support of Communism. Another key difference, even if it is an obvious one, is that Blank uncovers similar characteristics and purposes in the work of religious iconography and the work of Tolstoy, who, although he was at odds with the church, considered himself a Christian. Such images and conventions used with a positive connotation in the author's work should be no surprise. Finding similar uses in a film by a Soviet Communist, on the other hand, is less expected.


Citizens as Saints

The film's use of the iconography tradition appears early in the revolt. Just after he convinces the marines not to shoot at their fellow soldiers under the tarpaulin, Vakulinchuk climbs atop the gun turret and urges the men to rise up. Some translations have him saying "Let those blackguards have it" while others use "brutes" instead of "blackguards." Regardless of the English word used, Taylor reports that the Russian word here is "drakon, or 'dragon,' a mythical beast, which clearly implies that the authority and power of the officer class are themselves based on mythology rather than justice" (27). This word points to the discrepancy between the avowed purpose of those in power and their actions and highlights the oppressive violence necessary for them to maintain power. Like the anachronistic priest, the comparison of the church to a mythical beast argues that this institution's power belongs to a previous world where logic was subservient to fantasy and tradition.

Furthermore, Taylor notes, this word would have reminded many Russians of St. George, the saint who slew an evil dragon (1) and made frequent appearances in the iconography of the church (Taylor 27). According to Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lassky, what made St. George such a popular iconic figure (see Figure 2) is that his sufferings and his posthumous victory over the dragon led to the conversion of many pagans to Christianity (Ouspensky and Lossky 141). His sufferings and his ability to inspire others parallel those of Vakulinchuk, whose sufferings posthumously lead the Odessa citizens to rally behind Communism. This link is strengthened by the fact that multitudes visit the corpse, a sight that leads Anne Nesbet to conclude that Vakulinchuk "clearly functions here as a placeholder for the equally dead-and-yet-immortal Lenin" (72). Through this allusion, we see the first instance of Eisenstein creating meaning through contradictions by way of iconography. In his 1929 essay "A Dialectic Approach to Film Form," Eisenstein argues that the purpose of art is "to form equitable views by stirring up contradictions within the spectator's mind, and to forge accurate intellectual concepts from the dynamic clash of opposing passions" (46). In this case, we have a Communist revolutionary who is a stand-in for Lenin but is also revered as a religious martyr. Not only does the expected clash between an oppressive church and citizens seeking liberation occur, but it results in the forging of figures important to Communism and Orthodoxy. The leader of the revolt appears as a martyr killed for his belief in and work for a more righteous way of life. By connecting his sufferings to those of a religious figure, Eisenstein taps into the emotions his audience likely felt for St. George but redirects them to a Communist hero.


Eisenstein extends this emotional appeal by using many conventions and poses that can be found in Russian iconography. For example, the garb of many of the citizens who witness Vakulinchuk's body is that of the traditional Russian peasant, clothing that also resembles that of most figures in Russian icons. Four characters (see Figure 3) who wear this clothing appear early in the wake scene: A woman kneels in front of the tent, and two other women stand, flanking a man in a robe who leans on a barrel. According to Michel Quenot, robes appear frequently in icons in order to take focus away from the physical presence of the body, instead emphasizing the beauty and condition of the person's spirit (109). In this case, the clothing both highlights their poverty and focuses on their mourning of Vakulinchuk as if he were a lost religious leader.


Eisenstein reinforces their mourning by borrowing a pose from icons. The leaning man props his head up with his right arm, mirroring that of the woman in the background who also crosses her body with her left arm in order to support the elbow of her right one. This pose appears in many icons that commemorate the death of a holy figure such as Christ or a saint. An example can be found in the depiction of the dormition of Mary that follows. In this icon (see Figure 4), (2) the disciples surround the deathbed of Mary, with three of them, two to the viewer's right and one to the viewer's left, posing in a manner similar to the two grieving figures in the film. A figure in the same pose appears to the right of Jesus in a fourteenth-century icon (see Figure 5) depicting his crucifixion. (3) In each of these instances, the pose communicates grief and mourning of a holy figure's death, and Eisenstein's use of it in the wake scene in turn bestows sacredness on Vakulinchuk.

Similarly, Eisenstein's use of light confers holiness on Vakulinchuk. Between shots of the crowd approaching the pier and one of a woman giving a speech, an overhead shot shows the Odessa citizens gathered around the tent that houses his corpse. The tent juts out of the crowd, drawing the spectators' eyes in part because of the play of light off the canvas. The reflection off the flaps creates an artificial glow that resembles a halo, which designates sacred beings, whether they be angels, divine figures, or saints. Quenot notes that the halo, or golden nimbus, in iconography represents "the streaming of Divine Light in the one who lives in the intimacy of God (4) (115).



The use of light is a recurring convention Eisenstein uses to depict the people of Odessa as holy. As the woman gives her speech in front of the tent, another woman in the foreground of the shot holds a white parasol. Its circular shape alone is significant, for as Bartlett notes, "the circle was also a figure frequently used in early Russian icon painting as a symbol of higher truths" (72). Furthermore, its position over the woman's head calls to mind haloes in icons, an effect heightened by light's reflection off it. The appearance of halo-like images over the heads of the Odessa citizens continues throughout the fourth part of the film. Several wide-angle shots of the steps before the soldiers appear reveal multiple parasols throughout the crowd. In one example, a woman appears just before a male amputee emerges in front of her. We first see a shot of only her white parasol, but as she opens it below her waist, it glows due to a reflection of light. Next is a medium shot of the parasol positioned over her head. Because Eisenstein's montage places these images directly after one another, the viewer still has the glow in his or her mind, creating a connection between the reflection of light in the first shot and the placement of the parasol above the woman's head. From this shot, the viewer can deduce that the glow now exists over her head, an effect the camera's placement renders invisible, and designates her as sacred.

By designating this supporter of the Potemkin crew as a righteous figure, Eisenstein once again creates odd bedfellows: the icon, with its place in the church, and film, which many Communists saw as the modern art form. If we return to "A Dialectical Approach," we see that this combination is at home in his film theory: "I also regard the inception of new concepts and viewpoints in the conflict between customary conception and particular representation as dynamic--as a dynamization of the inertia of perception--as a dynamization of the 'traditional view' into a new one" (46). In Potemkin, then, Eisenstein attempts to transform the customary Communist perspective that religion is a harmful force--one need look no further than Karl Marx's famous statement "Religion is the opiate of the masses" for an example--and the traditional view of those Russian citizens who may have held on to their trust in the Russian Orthodox Church, seeking to "dynamize" them into a new perspective through conflicting uses of religious symbols, stories, and images. On the one hand, the film portrays the church, in conjunction with those who run the military, as maintaining its power at the cost of those it should be serving. In so doing, the church turns ordinary citizens into martyrs by taking part in their persecution. On the other hand, the film attempts to establish solidarity between the audience and the revolutionaries by associating the latter with revered religious figures important to Russian history and, thus, many Russians. Unity amongst the masses in their efforts to stamp out oppression is the new religious and patriotic ideal.

Even the clothing of the Odessa citizens communicates this ideal. Throughout the crowd, men of affluence wear suits, and wealthy women don immaculate dresses. Their appearance contrasts with the garb of the poorer members of the crowd, who wear clothes similar to those we have already seen at Vakulinchuk's wake. For example, the woman with the parasol cited above wears a perfectly preserved white dress with a dress hat as she waves to the Potemkin crew. Moments later, a woman with a lorgnette, veil, and feather-topped hat waves to the sailors with her glasses. After each woman appears, a match cut shows the amputee waving in dirty, dull-colored, holey clothes. In the case of the first cut, he waves with his hand but uses his casual-style hat, likely a newsboy or flat cap, to wave after the second cut. These comparisons argue that the Communist movement is not one that favors any particular economic or sexual group. Rather, it hopes to unite citizens of all types so that they can work together for the greater good, a unification the church has failed to bring about. The combination of these economic signifiers and the religious imagery reinforces the call for solidarity the film already presents in the mourning scene.

Returning to the significance of light in this scene, one can see similar symbolism involving the woman whose son is shot. After she has picked up her boy and started her approach up the steps, she appears at the bottom of the screen with the row of advancing soldiers descending down into the shot. Between the child-carrying mother and the approaching soldiers is a strip of light that illuminates the woman's path. Taylor notes that a guiding light such as this is conventional in icons and implies that the figure following the path is holy (44), a trait the audience would now associate with the mother who is soon felled by the soldiers blocking this path. This holiness has been established in the earlier appearance of the mother and child, who are seen waving to the Potemkin crew immediately following the two match cuts described above. This third match cut extends the holiness of the woman with the white parasol to these two.

Before the woman crumples after being shot, her pose evokes the Pieta which has Mary cradling the body of Jesus. Father Vladimir Ivanov explains that devotion to Mary in Russia started as far back as 957, when Princess Olga had a church in Kiev dedicated to St. Sophia-Divine Wisdom, whom Olga believed was Mary (11). Although the Pieta does not appear in many Russian icons, images of Mary holding Jesus as a child abound. Possibly the earliest example is Vladimir Mother of God (see Figure 6 (5)), the date of which is not known but originated at the latest in the middle of the eleventh century (Rice 11). David Talbot Rice notes that this icon was likely transferred from Constantinople to Kiev and thus was not made by Russians. However, he also explains that the icon "soon came to be reverenced as the holiest treasure of Russia, the wonder-working power of which was in repeated demand to bring protection in time of battle or to aid in averting natural catastrophes such as lack of rain" (11). Ivanov concurs, writing that "every great event in the life of the Russian State, according to [chronicles and historical essays], is linked to its influence" (13). As a result, its influence over Russian art and icons was significant. In fact, Rice explains,
 it was responsible for the conception in much of
 Russian art of the Virgin and Child as an intimate,
 tender, and delicate group with nothing of that awe-inspiring
 austerity which is met so often in the Eastern
 part of the Byzantine world and sometimes even in
 early Italian painting. (11)


The woman is shot after approaching the soldiers despite the fact that she clearly poses no immediate danger. Although we might conclude from these circumstances that her and her child's murders are nothing more than senseless acts of violence, their resemblance to the icon is more threatening than any physical weapon could pose. As a couple sympathetic to revolution, their similarity to the Virgin Mary and Jesus symbolically carries with it the danger that the masses will devote as much passion to the Communist movement as they have to the church, that they will transfer their devotion to the new religious ideal of solidarity. Likewise, Eisenstein appeals to this devotion in his audience by building this connection, encouraging a strong emotional reaction to the overwhelmed Virgin-like mother who is murdered along with her Jesus-like child. To be more specific, because of the icon's significance in religious and state matters, this response would have been due both to its association with Mary and the Christ and to its importance to the nation. The implication is that the soldiers have not simply shot an innocent child and his mother, but in doing so, they have obstructed the promise of social and economic salvation despite the pleadings of a holy woman. Here, Eisenstein builds on religious and patriotic feelings, reappropriating the power of both. While the film portrays the abuse of these two institutions in scenes like the one involving the Odessa Steps, it also shows Eisenstein's willingness to tap into the emotional current of the two, rerouting it to energize the audience and its support of Communism.

Eisenstein as Iconoclast and Iconographer

Eisenstein's use of the Orthodox iconography tradition does not necessarily clash with his reputation as an iconoclast, one he garnered in part because of the gods sequence in October. Instead, as Maureen Turim notes in The Films of Oshima Nagisa, his work as iconoclast logically leads to his work as iconographer:
 In filmmaking, iconoclasm has never been so directly
 expressed as by the Soviet filmmakers Sergei
 Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov, who each created
 memorable sequences in their films by borrowing and
 elaborating through their montage the images created
 by Bolshevik revolutionaries tearing down the
 architectural icons of the Russian Orthodox church.
 Again, filmmakers who are iconoclasts work through
 substitution; they create icons to attack other icons.
 These sequences are as much icons of a revolutionary
 spirit as the spires and symmetrical portraits of saints
 were icons for Russian Orthodoxy. (19)

We can see, then, in Potemkin a refusal of the oppressive tendencies of the Russian Orthodox Church but also an embrace of the power that icons and religious myths held for Russians. Rather than leave behind a genre of cultural production so engrained in Russian life, Eisenstein redirects it in a manner more conducive to his goal. For him, the emotion that icons evoke is not problematic. Rather, it is the ends to which those emotions had been directed that he seeks to change. St. George, then, is replaced with Vakulinchuk. The power structure that favors a few gives way to one that encourages a more just distribution of power. Just as icons were meant to lead worshippers to spiritual catharsis, Potemkin seeks to elicit strong feelings of camaraderie and solidarity with revolutionaries, and it does so by borrowing many conventions and myths from iconography.

This seemingly contradictory view of Communism, where historical materialism is laced with religious allusions, is not unique to Eisenstein. Rather, it is an instance of what James H. Billington has identified as the visionary-futurist aspect of the Russian Revolution, which he explains as a perception of the revolution based on passion and faith in a future that will come from the revolution (464). The religious connections within the visionary-futurist aspect are crucial. "Passion" and "faith," both of which have strong religious connotations, describe the approach, albeit a faith in and passion for a transformation that is promised in a better world to come here rather than the promised after-life.

Therefore, Eisenstein's use of religious tradition and images is not merely a means of covertly including that which opposes Communism. Enckell seems to argue as much when he writes that the "desire to defend the pace of progress has made us blind to the regressive and ancient concepts which have sneaked in by the backdoor into the gospel of revolutionary art and cinema as reactionary doubles of the revolution" (123). While Enckell is perhaps correct to argue that this blindness has resulted in a failure to value Eisenstein's use of Russian Orthodox myths, he similarly fails to identify Eisenstein's reappropriation of these myths for transformative purposes. For example, Enckell notes that the wake scene is not so much the presentation of a "revolutionary man" as it is "a way of describing how the religious sentiment of the people has been projected towards a true champion of the proletariat...." (125), thereby missing the possibility that the film is an attempt to redirect this sentiment toward a revolutionary man and thus the revolution. Just as Lenin saw Taylorism, with its origins in capitalism, as a tool to be used in the liberation of the working classes, Eisenstein utilizes the superstition of religion and its accompanying emotion against itself in an attempt to revolutionize the citizens.

On the other hand, Enckell does recognize the threat of using Orthodox myths in order to bolster a movement that seeks to create a world where the church is no longer powerful or even necessary. While Eisenstein attempts to aid this weakening of Russian Orthodoxy by portraying revolutionaries and their supporters as saintly, he does so by borrowing not only the images of the church but also its logic. If the concepts of saintliness, sacredness, and righteousness are preserved, so is the possibility that these ideals will lead his audience back to religion, even if it is a different iteration than the Russian Orthodox Church that supported the tsarist regime, or even if it treats Communism as a religion. Just as the association between the mother-and-child and Mary-and-Jesus threatens to reappropriate religious devotion for revolutionary purposes, the audience's sympathy might instead lead them to see the two characters in the film as divine figures. Vakulinchuk as saint could reinforce the attachment the audience has to religious saints and/or encourage them to view revolutionaries as saints, thereby reinstituting the "regressive" concepts of religion.

This threat in no small part comes from Eisenstein's use of not only the images of iconography but also its goal. One important trait that religious iconography and Eisenstein's films share is that both seek to move their audience to self-transcendence, to transform their perception of the quotidian into an awareness of something grander than themselves. Although Quenot claims that the icon prefers to appeal to the spiritual or rational rather than the emotional [sentimentale], he reverses course, or perhaps reveals that the spiritual and the emotional are not dichotomous, when he later writes that the icon often simultaneously produces an "attraction and repulsion combined" (106). This paradox is necessary, he claims, because one must experience the sufferings of Christ if one is to grasp fully the joy of the resurrection. Iconography, then, seeks to bring its viewers closer to the divine. It hopes to communicate the emotions Christ and saints must have felt in order to edify believers and help them identify more closely with those figures.

Eisenstein writes of a similar goal: pathos or ecstasy, whose etymology implies a displacement. In fact, Jacques Aumont comments that for Eisenstein, the term "ecstasy" still has its original religious meaning, a connection made with something transcendental (59). He "[wishes] to gain a maximum 'departure from oneself' in the spectator...." (Eisenstein, "The Structure of the Film" 168). Bartlett also notes the religious connection, arguing that Eisenstein's underscoring of film's ability to move its audience to ecstasy resembles Florensky's description of how every aspect of an icon was made with the intention of moving its viewer to a spiritual catharsis (73). For Eisenstein, the point is not only to evoke an emotional response but also to provoke a change in the viewer: "to go out of oneself inevitably implies a transition to something else, to something different in quality, to something opposite to what was" ("The Structure of the Film" 167). Of course, that something for Eisenstein is not to an awareness of the Russian Orthodox God. Instead, his iconography seeks to inspire revolution and solidarity but with a strategy similar to that of iconographers. This shared strategy, however, favors a logic at odds with the goal of the Communists.

As a means of comparison, one can consider the aforementioned gods sequence in October. James Goodwin notes that this montage of religious idols and leaders of the Russian government attempts to convey the emptiness of Western religion by presenting multiple gods, thereby undercutting the possibility of the monotheistic Christian God. In doing so, the sequence presents God "as a culturally defined, materially embodied construct" and "as a shifter, an otherwise empty sign dependent upon speaker and cultural context for its meaning" (87-88), not as some transcendental figure to be worshipped and obeyed. Because the statue of Alexander III is included in the montage, the sequence argues that the government's power suffers from the same weaknesses. However, in Potemkin, Eisenstein borrows from images similar to those that appear in October in order to argue for the righteousness of the Communist movement, thereby risking a similar association with the revolution and its subsequent government. Although Eisenstein attacks the power of the church through iconoclasm, in Potemkin, he also sneaks in ancient concepts and images in order to develop a Communist iconography that puts itself at risk of being de-constructed as well. (6)

Works Cited

Aumont, Jacques. Montage Eisenstein. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1987.

Bartlett, Rosamund. "The Circle and the Line: Eistenstein, Florensky, and Russian Orthodoxy." Eisenstein at 100: A Reconsideration. Eds. Al Lavalley and Barry P. Scherer, New Brunswick, N J: Rutgers University Press, 2001.65-76.

Battleship Potemkin: The Ultimate Edition. Directed by Sergei Eisenstein. 1925; New York: Kino International, 2007.

Billington, James H. "Six Views of the Russian Revolution." World Politics 18.3 (1996): 452-73.

Blank, Ksana. "Lev Tolstoy's Suprematist icon-Painting." Elementa 2.1 (1995): 67-80.

Eisenstein, Sergei. "A Dialectic Approach to Film Form." Film Form. Ed. and trans. Jay Leyda. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1949.45-63.

--. Immoral Memories: An Autobiography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.

--. Nonindifferent Nature: Film and the Structure of Things. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 1987.

--. "The Structure of the Film." Film Form. Ed. and trans, by Jay Leyda, 150-78. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1949.

Enckell, Mikael. "A Study in Scarlet." Eisenstein Revisited: A Collection of Essays. Eds. Lars Klebert and Hakan Lovgren. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1987. 113-132.

Goodwin, James. Eisenstein, Cinema, and History. Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1993.

Ivanov, Father Vladimir. Russian Icons. Trans. Mary Leonore Morse. New York: Rizzoli, 1988.

Klebert, Lars, and Hakan Lovgren, eds. Eisenstein Revisited: A Collection of Essays. Stochkholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1987. 113-32.

Leyda, Jay, ed. Film Form. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1949.

Nesbet, Anne. Savage Junctures: Sergei Eisenstein and the Shape of Thinking. KINO, The Russian Cinema Series. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2003.

Neuberger, Joan. Ivan the Terrible: A Film Companion. KINOfiles Film Companion. Vol. 9. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2003.

Ouspensky, Leonid, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. Olten, Switzerland: Otto Walter, 1952.

Quenot, Michel. L'Icone: Fenetre sur le Royaume. Paris: Cerf, 2001. Rice, David Talbot. Russian Icons. New York: King Penguin, 1947.

Taylor, Richard. The Battleship Potemkin: A Film Companion. KINOfiles Film Companion. Vol. 1. London: I.B. Tauris, 2000.

Thompson, Kristin. Ivan the Terrible: A Neoformalist Analysis. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1981.

Turim, Maureen. The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.


(1) "Drakon" might have also reminded members of the Russian audience of Vasilissa of the Golden Braid, a girl in Russian folklore who was held captive by a dragon until her brother Ivan the Pea killed the creature and rescued her. For a summary of the tale, see Mike Dixon-Kennedy, "Vasilis(s)a of the Golden Braid," Encyclopedia of Russian & Slavic Myth and Legend (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1998), 296-97.

(2) This image comes from Michel Quenot, The Icon: Window on the Kingdom (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's, 1991) 54.

(3) This image comes from Father Vladimir Ivanov, Russian Icons (New York: Rizzoli, 1988) 48.

(4) All translations of Quenot are my own.

(5) This image can be found in Father Vladimir Ivanov, Russian Icons (New York: Rizzoli, 1988) 10.

(6) Many thanks to Linda Dittmar, without whose generosity this article would not be possible.
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Author:Doise, Eric
Publication:Film Criticism
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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