Cycles of Conflict and Suffering: Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s Arsenal, and the Influence of Käthe Kollwitz and Willy Jaeckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s Berlin period (1922–1923) is largely discussed in work on the director as biographical material. However, the wide circle of acquaintances Dovzhenko made within Berlin’s art world made it an extremely fruitful period for his artistic development. This article explores the influence of two German artists – Dovzhenko’s friend Käthe Kollwitz, and art teacher Willy Jaeckel – on his 1928 film Arsenal. Through exploration of quotations from two print cycles – Kollwitz’s The Weavers’ Revolt (1897) and Jaeckel’s Memento 1914/1915 (1915) – this article demonstrates the depth of Arsenal’s debt to German art, and goes some way towards addressing the lack of scholarship on the Berlin art world’s influence on Dovzhenko’s directorial vision. Using Heinrich Plett’s principles of quotation analysis as a guide, it explores both the way that Dovzhenko appropriates the artists’ work, and also the impact the intrusion of the quotations’ prior contexts on our understanding of the film. It reinforces existing readings of Arsenal’s exploration of the relationship between conflict and suffering, and underlines its strong pacifist message. It also argues that Arsenal investigates the very borderline between art and cinema, and suggests that the film should be explored not just in a cinematic context, but also in the tradition of the great print cycles on the theme of conflict of Francisco Goya, Kollwitz, Jaeckel and Otto Dix.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalStudies in Russian and Soviet Cinema
Volume10
Issue number2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Soviet Cinema
  • Ukrainian Cinema
  • Dovzhenko
  • Kollwitz
  • Jaeckel
  • Film History

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