Chronicle

Film Seminar: "Postwar Urban Culture in the USSR"
December 14, 2011

The second film seminar in the "Postwar Urban Culture in the USSR" series took place on December 14, at the conference room of the Center for Urban History. The topic of the seminar was "New bourgeouisie in socialist cities." The program included a screening of the Leon Jeannot comedy The Man from M-3 (Poland, 1968). The series of film seminars is part of the "Home: A Century of Change" Exhibition at the Center. 

Socialist Poland in the 1960s. Since time immemorial, the most important event in any Pole’s life has been marriage. Marriage divides human existence into two halves – the "before" and "after." Now, however, everything’s changed. The single most important event that could happen to any person is the acquisition of a new apartment. Everything else – including marriage – is subordinated to this worthy purpose.A crucial moment arrives for the film’s protagonist, when he is promised his residence permit. But the document comes with one condition – the new apartment will be given to a new family. The young doctor now has a month to leave his bachelorhood and get married. 

The comedic narrative captures all the twists and turns of this situation perfectly. It portrays the hopes and dreams, as well as the anxieties and problems of a young person waiting to take his place in a socialist city.Whereas in the 1950s an apartment was an asset in and of itself, a decade later it is a conscious step up for city residents – a step that brings with it specific change, imbuing life with respectability, certainty, and responsibility. Getting your own apartment becomes a rite of passage that everyone must go through. 

The Man from M-3 portrays the first steps taken into the new urban culture of a socialist city. To examine how a life of a socialist city resident might develop "after the apartment," participants of the film seminar also discussed the famous Soviet "New Year" film The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!, which helped create a holiday mood.

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