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The Crisis of the Soviet Action-Image: Towards a Deleuzian Taxonomy of Thaw Cinema (2017-2018)

Field of study: Philosophy, Film Studies

The paper examines the exemplary films of the Soviet “Thaw” cinema in light of Gilles Deleuze’s theory of the crisis of the action-image elaborated in the context of post-war European cinema. I argue that, besides aberrant movement as the key characteristic of such a crisis, Thaw cinema could be characterized by other tendencies, such as the proliferation of films foregrounding the sublime action-image, as well as its radical enfeeblement in the 1970s, which similarly testify to the overall crisis of the Soviet action-image. The ambiguous or aporetic form of the Thaw action-image, which both celebrates the sublime revolutionary spirit and emphasizes its utter futility at the same time, serves to problematize the dogmatic aesthetic of socialist realism, as well as helps us explain the constitutive contradictions of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization.

Keywords: Deleuze, thaw cinema, action-image, revolutionary, sublime, superfluous man, aberrant movement

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