This presentation examines a fundamental shift in how Soviet cinematographers reconfigured the notion and practice of fatherhood. After Stalin’s death in 1953, Soviet directors made active and emotive paternity central to what it means to be a Soviet man. This shift was significant because men’s identities were “domesticated” and their lives more firmly tied to the home rather than the public sphere. The “drama” of men’s lives—as depicted in post-Stalinist film—occurred around the family hearth rather than the blast furnace or the battlefield. While post-Stalinist films glorified fathers, they also inverted the generational dynamics since the fathers learned from their sons, rather than the other way around. In short, Soviet filmmakers presented their audiences with an ambitious cultural project in which men were required to be more nurturing, home-centered and democratic in their dealings with their children. In the best of circumstances, this was a tall order.
Marko Dumančić is an assistant professor at Western Kentucky University. He works on a range of topics involving gender and sexual identity in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.