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12-1 Bulgarian Cinema - Didacticism




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This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

12-1 Bulgarian Cinema - Didacticism

In Krassimir Kroumov's works "one can sense the
same spiritual intensity, the same moral ideal and almost religious passion
in the exploration of human suffering as in Tarkovsky's films." But one can
also sense a smack of another crucial and immutable characteristic of
Bulgarian cinema -- messianic didacticism; and the reference to the Russian
director Tarkovsky is not accidental at all. The roots of that didacticism,
which suited the communist ideology and propaganda so well, are much
deeper and can be traced back to the common ground of Eastern Orthodoxy
-- be it Russian, Bulgarian, Greek or Georgian -- and its unique cultural
heritage. For a longer excursion in the Bulgarian past, one can read the
first chapter "Art and History" of Ronald Holloway's "The Bulgarian
Cinema", but for the purpose of this paper it is sufficient to mention that
being an artist in the Eastern Orthodox tradition was considered similar to
being a priest -- a status charged with the greatest moral
responsibilities; the artist was treated as a God's servant rather than as
a traveling comedian, as a preacher rather than as a clown. And a
far-reaching consequence of it is the indisputable assumption that art and
entertainment could never be synonymous.
How to defeat this sacred but obsolete notion as a moral imperative for
creativity? This would eventually be the Bulgarian auteurs' toughest
challenge. It is quite obvious, though, that it should be done in order to
survive, at least physically, in a pervasive reality professing a rather
converse creed.

 

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