Film Seminar "Postwar Urban Culture in the USSR"
November 23, 2011
Center for Urban History, Lviv
The seminar included a screening of Cheremushki (USSR, 1962, directed by Herbert Rappoport), with subsequent discussion. The film seminar is part of the "Home: A Century of Change" exhibition at the Center for Urban History.
The Cheremushki district of Moscow, one of the first to build "Khruschevka" type residential housing, became a symbol for new Soviet residential construction from the start. In light of the scope of the new housing program initiated by Khruschev, the exemplary Cheremushki could not fail to become one of the images of the mass culture of the time. Symbolic immortality was given the neighborhood first by Dmitri Shostakovich, with his opera Moscow – Cheremushki, and then by Herbert Rappoport, who transferred the musical to the movie screen. Today, when the word "khrushchevka" is associated with slums, rather than with a new type of modern housing, it is hard to understand the role these simple apartment blocks played in the life of a simple Soviet person. However, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, these drab new constructions were seen as no less important for social progress, than the Sputnik. Rappoport’s important musical, one of the first color productions, clearly fixes this moment of triumph of concrete blocks on the film reel, and is doubtless capable of transporting the viewer into the day, when getting a new apartment was synonymous with the start of a new and better life.
Cover Image: Novye Cheremushki, quarter №34. 1966