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Solidarity and the Aesthetics of Pain: Soviet Documentary Film and the Vietnam War

Roth-Ey, K; (2024) Solidarity and the Aesthetics of Pain: Soviet Documentary Film and the Vietnam War. International Review of Social History 10.1017/S0020859024000051. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The Soviet campaign in support of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the Vietnam War saturated Soviet public culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was the longest solidarity action in Soviet history and the first to reach mass television audiences. This article examines the production and reception of a televised documentary film about the Vietnam War made by Konstantin Simonov - a celebrity writer who played a crucial role in Soviet culture during World War II, and then, in the post-war period, in the struggle to come to terms with terrible truths about Stalinism and the chaos and trauma that war had rendered. Simonov's film presented the Vietnam War in lyrical rather than analytical terms, calling upon viewers to draw connections between the suffering of the Vietnamese and the Soviet wartime experience and to enact their solidarity with the Vietnamese in terms of feeling. The film proposes a solidarity of pain and an understanding of war and wartime suffering as elemental and overwhelming. In dozens of letters to Simonov, we find an understanding and appreciation of this vision, which decentres Vietnam and instead sends viewers on a journey back to Soviet history and trauma.

Type: Article
Title: Solidarity and the Aesthetics of Pain: Soviet Documentary Film and the Vietnam War
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0020859024000051
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020859024000051
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10189070
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