The Influence of Cinematography on the Formation of Antireligious Consciousness of the Georgian Society (the Soviet times)

Zakharia Dzordzadze


After the abolition of the Georgian Kingdom, the Russian autocracy undermined the role of the Georgian Church as the latter strived to secure the honor and dignity for the maintenance of the unity of the nation. The fight against the Georgian Church lasted for decades and the newly created communist regime kept the policy of the Tsarist Russia, waged against the church. The class struggle also implied the elimination of the religious sphere with a variety of means, including a physical liquidation of a person, as it was no longer compatible with the Soviet rule. God was substituted with a pseudo religion – with new ideals, compatible with the necessity of creation of the “New Man,” which would exercise the Marxist ideas in practice without any protractions, as one would be free from all sorts of “religious bonds.” The Leninist propositions of fight against the religion found its resonance among the Georgian Marxists, which resulted in the destruction of thousands of churches, thousands of deported persons and exterminated clerics. These measures were aimed at the creation of consciousness of a “new Soviet individual”, which excluded God; even a minor acceptance of the idea of God was considered as an anti-state behavior.
Artists, fascinated with the revolutionary ideas, became ghost-writers and created new works dedicated to this change. The Communist Party particularly stressed the importance of the “Engineers of Souls” – i.e. the role of writers in fighting against religion. The slogans and appeals of party leaders delivering anti-religious messages had to be transformed into their works for remembrance by the mass society. Lenin’s famous saying – “of all the arts the most important for us is the cinema” – had imperative importance. Therefore, cinematographers tried to reflect the process of formation of Communism through their works. The new era of the Soviet arts was launched. The cinema, as the tool of censorship, kept its eye on minor details that were incompatible with the Soviet ideology. Every scenario went through a detailed review before production, as it should have reflected the ideology of the Communist Party and highlighted the predominance of the Soviet way of life.
The documentary cinema was particularly valued, as it was a kind of a chronicle of the Soviet life. The anti-religious themes had particular importance in the cinema production, as profanities were considered as the party directives: for the creation of a particular stereotype of clergy the following methods were extensively applied – satire, pamphlet, humor, template – and widely promoted through the cinema production. These should have inhibited distrust, disrespect, cynical attitudes, aggression and hate towards the clerics among the Soviet persons, as the resulted antipathy should have lasted long among spectators. The Soviet cinematography produced a number of movies in this line: “Khabarda,” “Lost Paradise,” “Magdana’s Lurja,” “Londre,” “Adventures of Lazare,” “The Wishing Tree,” etc. The clerics depicted in these movies differ from one another in their appearance, behavior, speeches and attitudes towards human beings; although they share one particular characteristic, which was predetermined by the Soviet regime: it was necessary to reflect degeneracy of humankind – futility, hypocrisy, acquisitiveness and irreverence. This anti-religious inertia lasted until the 1980s and laid the foundation for the emergence of new trends in the reflection of this problem.

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