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date: 30 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

After distinguishing propaganda as a pedagogical practice with roots in religious proselytizing from agitation as directed at immediate mobilization, this article discusses the militantly atheistic Bolshevik propaganda films made during the Russian Civil War. These films, one of which was made by filmmakers Dziga Vertov and Lev Kuleshov, depicted the forcible exposure of the relics of Russian Orthodox saints, whose remains were held by the faithful to be incorruptible. This article argues that the desire of film propagandists to demonstrate both the truth and the persuasiveness of their lesson led them to fabricate a representation of spectator response, through the montage device later called the “Kuleshov Effect,” that ironically commits the visual falsification of which the Bolsheviks accused Orthodox clerics.

Keywords: Dziga Vertov, Lev Kuleshov, Kuleshov Effect, propaganda, agitation, militant atheism, Russian Orthodoxy, Russian Civil War, montage (cinema), Bolshevism

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