Narrative Resistance In Kira Muratova's Cinema




Kira Muratova; Stanley Cavell; Ontology of Cinema; Melodrama; Performative Cinema.


In the late winter of 2022, just before the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine, a screening of Kira Muratova's film The Long Farewell (1971) was scheduled in one of Vilnius' cinemas. When the invasion took place, the screening was cancelled, motivated by censorship of Russian cultural products. This misunderstanding was quickly corrected by the simple fact that Muratova's cinema is Ukrainian cinema. But this incident is an example of a wider historical misunderstanding regarding Ukrainian cinema and especially Muratova’s films. The main aim of this paper is to challenge the assumption that Muratova belongs to Russian cultural tradition through an analysis of three of Muratova's melodramatic films – Brief Encounters (1967), The Long Farewell (1971) and The Asthenic Syndrome (1989). In the current analysis I show that although these three melodramas do not explicitly refer to Ukrainian identity, the search for a more universal and humanistic morality through melodramatic temporality is closely linked to Ukraine. This can be seen in the reception of the films by the local Soviet authorities, which resulted in strict censorship and repression of Muratova's creative possibilities. I argue that while these films are in stark contrast to the official guidelines of the artistic dogmas of the Soviet state apparatus, they formulate a vision of life that resembles what Stanley Cavell calls moral perfectionism. However, Muratova's films not only adhere to Cavell's legacy but by showing the negative of Cavell's vision – what happens when members of society do not have the means to pursue an authentic moral life – she expands and updates Cavell's thought. The dialogue between Muratova's cinema and Cavell's philosophy is important not only because it extends and universalizes Cavell's notion of moral perfectionism, but more importantly because it shows a strategy of temporal resistance that is not based on folkloric references and filmed landscapes, but on the moral and philosophical human need for an autonomous life. As can be clearly seen in Muratova’s films, one of the necessary conditions for such a life is political liberty.


 Kira Muratova; Stanley Cavell; Ontology of Cinema; Melodrama; Performative Cinema.




How to Cite

Bolšakovas , E. (2023). Narrative Resistance In Kira Muratova’s Cinema. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, 15(1), 44–56.