Writings of the Soviet Leadership

Felix Dzerzhinsky - 1918

Felix Dzerzhinsky – 1918

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Writings of the Soviet Leadership

Some individuals are included here even though they might have fallen out of favour in subsequent years. Also included are a number of biographies which vary in their sympathy to the Socialist cause.

Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria (1989-1953)

On the History of the Bolshevik Organizations in Transcaucasia, speech delivered at a meeting of Party functionaries July 21-22 1935, Laventri Beria, International Publishers, New York, 1935, 206 pages.

On the History of the Bolshevik Organizations in Transcaucasia, speech delivered at a meeting of Party functionaries July 21-22 1935, Laventri Beria, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1939, 206 pages.

The Great Inspirer and Organizer of the Victories of Communism, written on the occasion of JV Stalin’s 70th birthday, FLPH, Moscow, 1950, 24 pages.

The 34th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, speech delivered at a celebration meeting of the Moscow Soviet, November 6 1951, FLPH, Mosocw, 1951, 36 pages.

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (1988-1938)

The ABC of Communism, a Popular Explanation of the Program of the Communist Party of Russia, translation by Eden and Cedar Paul, Nikolai Bukharin and Yevgeni Preobrazhensky, CPGB, London, 1922, 422 pages.

Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin (1895-1975)

USSR Builds for Peace, reports on the achievements of the Post-war Five-year Planand the USSR’s fight for peace, 33rd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Nikolai Bulganin, Soviet News, London, 1950, 20 pages.

Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926)

Prison Diary and Letters, Felix Dzerzhinsky, FLPH, Moscow, 1958, 306 pages.

Felix Dzerzhinsky – a biography, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1988, 164 pages.

Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin (1875-1946)

Stalin, sixty years, M Kalinin, FLPH, Moscow, 1939, 98 pages. Published to celebrate Stalin’s sixtieth birthday.

The Patriotic War of the Soviet People against the German invaders, M Kalinin, FLPH, Moscow, 1942, 32 pages.

On Communist Education, speeches and articles, MI Kalinin, FLPH, Moscow, 1950, 479 pages.

Lev Borisovich Kamenev (1883-1936)

Dictatorship of the Proletariat, The Toiler, Cleaveland, 1920, 14 pages.

Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai (1872-1952)

Alexandra Kollontai, selected articles and speeches, International Publishers, New York, 1984, 215 pages.

Communism and the Family, Alexandra Kollantai, Pluto, London, 1971, 24 pages.

Nadezhda Krupskaya (1869-1939)

Bride of the Revolution, Krupskaya and Lenin, Robert H McNeal, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1972, 326 pages.

Maxim Maximovich Litvinov (1876-1951)

Against Aggression, Speeches, 1934-1938, together with texts of treaties and of the Covenant of the League of Nations, Maxim Litvinov, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1939, 208 pages.

Maxim Litvinoff, a biography, AU Pope, Secker and Warburg, London, 1943, 530 pages.

Maxim Litvinov, Sheinis Zinovy, translated by Vic Schneierson, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1988, 356 pages. (A Revisionist appreciation.)

Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov (1901-1988)

Report to the Nineteenth Party Congress of the work of the Central Committee of the CPSU(B), G Malenkov, FLPH, Moscow,1952, 147 pages.

Malenkov, a biographical study of Stalin’s successor, Martin Ebon, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, June 1953, 152 pages.

Speech by G. M. Malenkov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. at the session of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet, August 8, 1953, Soviet News, London, 1953, 41 pages.

Speech at the Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet, August 8 1953, Soviet News, London, 1953, 28 pages. (Digitised version.)

Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan (1895-1978)

The camp of Socialism and the camp of capitalism, AI Mikoyan, FLPH, Moscow, 1950, 63 pages.

The Memoirs of Anastas Mikoyan, Volume 1, The Path of Struggle, Sphinx Press, Madison, 1988, 583 pages.

Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich Molotov (1890-1986)

The Constitution of Socialism, Speech delivered at the Eighth Congress of Soviets of the USSR, Vyachesla Molotov, Cooperative Publishing Company of Foreign Workers in the USSR, Moscow, 1937, 31 pages.

Statement in the Supreme Soviet USSR on the ratification of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, August 31 1939, Modern Books, London, 1939, 14 pages.

Speech to the Sixth Session Supreme Soviet USSR, March 29th 1940, with an introduction by William Rust, Vyachesla Molotov, Modern Books, London, 1940, 20 pages.

Soviet Peace Policy, Vyachesla Molotov, with a foreword by DN Pritt and a biographical sketch by WP and Zelda Coates, Anglo-Russian News Bulletin, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1941, 101 pages.

Note Submitted by V Molotov, People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, concerning the universal robbery and despoliation of the population, and the monstrous atrocities perpetrated by the German authorities on occupied Soviet territory, FLPH, Moscow, 1942, 20 pages.

The Molotov Notes on German Atrocities, notes sent by VM Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, to all governments with which the USSR has diplomatic relations, issued on behalf of the Embassy of the USSR in London, His majesty’s Stationary Office, London, 1942, 20 pages.

The life story of V Molotov, George Gay, Pilot Press, London, nd., 1940s?, 92 pages.

The Armed Forces of the United Nations on Foreign Territory, speeches in Committee 1 of the General Assembly of the United Nations, November 1946, Information Bulletin of the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Washington, 1946, 31 pages.

VM Moltov’s Speeches and Statements made at the Moscow Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, March10-April 34 1947, Soviet News, London, 1947, 124 pages.

30th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, speech delivered at the celebration meeting of the Moscow Soviet on November 6 1947, Soviet News, London, 1947, 20 pages.

For a democratic peace with Germany, speeches and statements made at the London session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, November 25-December 15, 1947, Soviet News, London, 1948, 99 pages.

Molotov Remembers, inside Kremlin Politics by Vyacheslav Molotov, conversations with Felix Chuev, edited with an introduction and notes by Albert Resis, Ivan R Dee, Chicago, 1993, 463 pages.

Stalin’s Letters to Molotov 1925-1936, editors Lars T Lih, Oleg V Naumoy, Annals of Communism Series, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1995, 276 pages.

Molotov Stalin’s Cold Warrior, Geoffrey Roberts, Potomac Books, Washington, 2012, 254 pages.

Yevgeni Alekseyevich Preobrazhensky (1886-1937)

The ABC of Communism, a Popular Explanation of the Program of the Communist Party of Russia, translation by Eden and Cedar Paul, Nikolai Bukharin and Yevgeni Preobrazhensky, CPGB, London, 1922, 422 pages.

Maksim Zakharovich Saburov (1900-1977)

Report on the directives of the XIXth Party Congress relating to the Fifth Five-year Plan for the development of the USSR in 1951-1955, M Saburov, FLPH, Moscow, 1952, 72 pages.

Andrei Yanuaryevich Vyshinskiy (1883-1954)

The peace and friendship of nations against the instigators of a new war, speech delivered at the Second General Assembly of the United Nations, September 18 1947, Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Washington, 1947, 38 pages.

The Law of the Soviet State, Macmillan Company, New York, 1948, 749 pages.

The teachings of Lenin and Stalin on Proletarian Revolution and the State, Soviet News, London, 1948, 120 pages.

The Soviet position on Prohibition of Atomic Weapons and International Control of Atomic Energy, speeches at the Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, November 1949, Information Bulletin of the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Washington, 1949, 56 pages.

Lenin and Stalin, the great organizers of the Soviet State, FLPH, Moscow, 1949, 71 pages.

JV Stalin’s Doctrine of the Socialist State, FLPH, Moscow, 1951, 38 pages.

Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov (1896-1948)

Amendments to the Rules of the CPSU(B), Report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU(B), Andrei Zhadanov, FLPH, Moscow, 1939, 64 pages.

On The History of Philosophy, Andrei Zhdanov, np., nd., 1947?, 28 pages.


Reports to the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Soviet Leaders Speak for Communism and Peace, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lavrenty Beria, Nikolai Bulganin, Lazar Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov, New Century Publishers, New York, 1952, 49 pages.

The Stalin Heritage, speeches given at the funeral of JV Stalin, March 9 1953, by Georgy Malenkov, Lavrenty Beria, and Vyacheslav Molotov, New Century, New York, 1953, 15 pages.


Who was who in the USSR, a biographic directory containing 5,015 biographies of prominent Soviet historical personalities, compiled by the Institute for the Study of the USSR, Munich, Scarecrow Press, New Jersey, 1972, 677 pages.

More on the USSR

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J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

Ivan the Terrible - in the film

Ivan the Terrible – in the film

More on the USSR – including other writings of JV Stalin

J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’


So far on this blog, when it comes to Socialist Realism, the emphasis has been on how it manifested itself in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. This has through an analysis of the distinctive (and often very impressive) Albanian lapidars but there have also been articles addressing paintings, art in general as well as looking at architectural representations such as mosaics and bas relief on and in buildings.

There have also been posts about how Socialist Realism was seen in the People’s Republic of China during its socialist period (which tragically ended very soon after the death of Chairman Mao in 1976).

A beginning (small at the moment) has also been made on the country which was the first to develop the Socialist Realist theory and practice, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). So far this has been quite limited to a start on a look at the magnificent decorations of the metro stations – in reality the biggest art galleries in the world (especially in Moscow and Leningrad).

An equally small contribution has also been started in the public art of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

All these projects related to the above countries are ongoing.

However, so far, there has been little presented on the most important technological development in the field of arts of the 20th century – cinema.

VI Lenin, the first leader of the first Socialist State, realised from the very beginning the importance of literature and art in the development of the dictatorship of the proletariat, without which a workers state wouldn’t be able to exist. He also understood the importance of the moving image in this task.

As did JV Stalin and the article below shows that he took a very active interest in how the Soviet Cinema industry was developing – what messages and values it was trying to transmit in the socialist education of the Soviet working class and peasants.

Anti-Communists constantly distort events to twist them to fit into their anti-working class agenda. Not surprising as capitalism and imperialism will do and say anything which they think will strengthen their hold on the majority of the people of the world and to undermine anyone who seeks to challenge their political and economic control.

Many people might have heard/read about Stalin’s intervention regarding Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 1934. This criticism was accepted by the composer – and even today the work isn’t considered to be one of Shostakovich’s best. What probably isn’t widely known is that Stalin’s criticism came from a very deep understanding of Russian folk culture and he considered it important for Soviet artists (in all fields) to create artistic works to which the majority of the Soviet population could relate.

His intervention with Eisenstein about the two films of Ivan the Terrible primarily concerned historical accuracy – to which Eisenstein was playing fast and loose. In a socialist society artists have obligations to the people which do not exist in a capitalist society. After all, Eisenstein’s ability to have the luxury of following his artistic ideas was paid for by the working people. Stalin in this interview was reminding the film maker (and by implication all other artists) about his obligations.

Ivan the Terrible - sketch by Eisenstein

Ivan the Terrible – sketch by Eisenstein

Introduction by Revolutionary Democracy

One of the consequence of the anti-Stalin campaign initiated by the CPSU in 1953 has been that a number of facets of Stalin’s interventions on cultural questions are virtually unknown in the Communist movement. It is a telling commentary on this state of affairs that Paresh Dhar in his review of Asok Chattopadhyaya’s book Martiya Chirayat Bhabana – Silpa Sahitya Prasanga (in Bengali) can write that ‘what is most striking is that by a special research work, Asok has unveiled Stalin’s numerous involvements with art and literature of which we never heard before’, (Frontier, May 24th, 1997).

This discussion took place between Stalin, Zhdanov and Molotov from the political leadership of the CPSU(b), and S.M. Eisenstein and N. Cherkasov at the end of February, 1947. It was an integral part of the attempt by the Bolshevik party in the post-war period to raise the artistic level of Soviet culture and to eliminate weaknesses in ideological and political content.(1) Prior to the discussion the Central Committee of the CPSU(B) had, on September 4th, 1946 taken a decision on the film Glowing Life. Parts of the decision which bear on Ivan the Terrible are cited here:

‘The fact of the matter is that many of our leading cinema workers – producers, directors and screen writers – are taking a light-hearted and irresponsible attitude to their duties and are not working conscientiously on the films they produce. The chief defect in their work is failure to study subject matter… Producer Eisenstein betrayed ignorance of historical facts in the second series of Ivan Grozny, depicting Ivan Grozny’s progressive army, the oprichniki, as a gang of degenerates reminiscent of the American Ku Klux Klan. Ivan Grozny, a man of strong will and character, is shown as a spineless weakling, as a Hamlet type… ‘

‘One of the fundamental reasons for the production of worthless films is the lack of knowledge of subject matter and the light-hearted attitude of screen writers and producers to their work.’

‘The Central Committee finds that the Ministry of Cinematography, and primarily its head, Comrade Bolshakov, exercises inadequate supervision over film studios, producers and screen writers, is doing too little to improve the quality of films and is spending large sums of money to no useful purpose. Leading officials of the Ministry of Cinematography take an irresponsible attitude to the work entrusted to them and are indifferent to the ideological and political content and artistic merits of the films being produced.’

‘The Central Committee is of the opinion that the work of the Ministry’s Art Council is incorrectly organized. The council does not ensure impartial and business-like criticism of films for production. It often takes an apolitical attitude in its judgement of film and pays little attention to their idea-content. Many of its members display lack of principle in their assessment of films, their judgement being based on personal, friendly relations with the producers. The absence of criticism in the cinema and the prevalent narrow-circle atmosphere are among the chief reasons for the production of poor films.’

‘Art workers must realise that those who continue to take an irresponsible, light-hearted attitude to their work, may well find themselves superfluous and outside the ranks of progressive Soviet art, for the cultural requirements and demands of the Soviet theatregoer have developed and the Party and Government will continue to cultivate among the people good taste and encourage exacting demands on works of art.’ (Decisions of the Central Committee, C.P.S.U.(B) On Literature and Art (1946-1948), Moscow, 1951, pp. 26-28.)

1. An earlier criticism of the films of Eisenstein (Strike, The Battleship Potemkin, October, and The General Line) was published in 1931: I. Anissimov, ‘The Films of Eisenstein’. This has been reprinted in Bulletin International, 64-67, April-July 1983, pp. 74-91. (In French).

J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

We were summoned to the Kremlin at about 11 o’clock [In the evening – Ed.]. At 10.50 we reached the reception. Exactly at 11 o’clock Poskrebyshev came out to escort us to the cabinet.

At the back of the room were Stalin, Molotov and Zhdanov.

We entered, exchanged greetings and sat around the table.

Stalin. You wrote a letter. The answer got delayed a little. We are meeting late. I first thought of giving a written answer but then I decided that talking will be better. As I am very busy and have no time I decided to meet you here after a long interval. I received your letter in November.

Zhdanov. You received it while still in Sochi.

Stalin. Yes, yes. In Sochi. What have you decided to do with the film?

Eisenstein. We are saying that we have divided the second part of the film into two sections, because of which the Livonsky March has not been included. As a result there is a disproportion between the different parts of the film. So it is necessary to correct the film by editing the existing material and to shoot mainly the Livonsky March.

Stalin. Have you studied History?

Eisenstein. More or less.

Stalin. More or less? I am also a little familiar with history. You have shown the oprichnina incorrectly. The oprichnina was the army of the king. It was different from the feudal army which could remove its banner and leave the battleground at any moment – the regular army, the progressive army was formed. You have shown this oprichnina to be like the Ku-Klux-Klan.

Eisenstein said that they wear white cowls but we have black ones.

Molotov. This does not make a major difference.

Stalin. Your tsar has come out as being indecisive, he resembles Hamlet. Everybody prompts him as to what is to be done, and he himself does not take any decision… Tsar Ivan was a great and a wise ruler, and if he is compared with Ludwig XI (you have read about Ludwig XI who prepared absolutism for Ludwig XIV), then Ivan the Terrible is in the tenth heaven. The wisdom of Ivan the Terrible is reflected by the following: he looked at things from the national point of view and did not allow foreigners into his country, he barricaded the country from the entry of foreign influence. By showing Ivan the Terrible in this manner you have committed a deviation and a mistake. Peter 1st was also a great ruler, but he was extremely liberal towards foreigners, he opened the gate wide to them and allowed foreign influence into the country and permitted the Germanisation of Russia. Catherine allowed it even more. And further. Was the court of Alexander I really a Russian court? Was the Court of Nicolaus I a Russian court? No, they were German courts.

The most outstanding contribution of Ivan the Terrible was that he was the first to introduce the government monopoly of external trade. Ivan the Terrible was the first and Lenin was the second.

Zhdanov. The Ivan the Terrible of Eisenstein came out as a neurotic.

Molotov. In general, emphasis was given to psychologism, excessive stress was laid on internal psychological contradictions and personal emotions.

Stalin. It is necessary to show the historical figure in correct style. For example it was not correct that in the first series Ivan the Terrible kissed his wife so long. At that period it was not permitted.

Zhdanov. The film is made in the Byzantine style but there also it was not done.

Molotov. The second series is very restricted in domes and vaults, there is no fresh air, no wider Moscow, it does not show the people. One may show conversations, repressions but not this.

Stalin. Ivan the Terrible was extremely cruel. It is possible to show why he had to be cruel.

One of the mistakes of Ivan the Terrible was that he did not completely finish off the five big feudal families. If he had destroyed these five families then there would not have been the Time of Troubles. If Ivan the Terrible executed someone then he repented and prayed for a long time. God disturbed him on these matters… It was necessary to be decisive.

Molotov. It is necessary to show historical incidents in a comprehensive way. For example the incident with the drama of Demyan Bedny Bogatyp. Demyan Bedny mocked the baptism of Russia, but in reality acceptance of Christianity was a progressive event for its historical development.

Stalin. Of course, we are not good Christians but to deny the progressive role of Christianity at that particular stage is impossible. This incident had a very great importance because this turned the Russian state to contacts with the West, and not to an orientation towards the East.

About relations with the East, Stalin said that after the recent liberation from the Tatar yoke, Ivan the Terrible united Russia in a hurried way so as to have a stronghold to face a fresh Tatar attack. Astrakhan was already conquered and they could have attacked Moscow at any moment, The Crimean Tatars also could have done this.

Stalin. Demyan Bedny did not have the correct historical perspective. When we shifted the statue of Minin and Podzharsky closer to the church of Vasily Blazhenova then Demyan Bedny protested and wrote that the statue must be thrown away and that Minin and Podzharsky must be forgotten. In answer to this letter, I called him ‘Ivan, do not forget your own family’. We cannot throw away history…’

Next Stalin made a series of remarks regarding the interpretation of Ivan the Terrible and said that Malyuta Skuratov was a great army general and died a hero’s death in the war with Livonia.

Cherkasov in reply said that criticism always helped and that after criticism Pudovkin made a good film Admiral Nakhimov. ‘We are sure that we will not do worse. I am working on the character of Ivan the Terrible not only the film, but also in the theatre. I fell in love with this character and think that our alteration of the scenes will be correct and truthful’.

In response to this Stalin replied (addressing Molotov and Zhdanov) – ‘Let’s try?’

Cherkasov I am sure that the alteration will be successful.

Stalin. May god help you, – every day a new year. (Laughs.)

Eisenstein. We are saying that in the first part a number of moments were successful and this gives us the confidence for making the second series.

Stalin. We are not talking about what you have achieved, but now we are talking about the shortcomings.

Eisenstein asked whether there were some more instructions regarding the film.

Stalin. I am not giving you instructions but expressing the viewer’s opinion. It is necessary that historical characters are reflected correctly. What did Glinka show us? What is this Glinka? This is Maksim and not Glinka. [They were talking about the film Composer Glinka made by L. Arnshtam. The main role was played by B. Chirkov.] Artist Chirkov could not express himself and for an artist the greatest quality is the capability to transform himself. (Addressing Cherkasov) – you are capable of transforming yourself.

In answer to this Zhdanov said that Cherkasov was unlucky with Ivan the Terrible. There was still panic with regard to Spring and he started to act as a janitor – in the film In the Name of Life he plays a janitor.

Cherkasov said that he had acted the maximum number of tsars and he had even acted as Peter 1st and Aleksei.

Zhdanov. According to the hereditary line. He proceeded according to the hereditary line.

Stalin. It is necessary to show historical figures correctly and strongly. (To Eisenstein). You directed Alexander Nevsky. It came out very well. The most important thing is to maintain the style of the historical period. The director may deviate from history; it is not correct if he simply copies from the historical materials, he must work on his ideas but within the boundary of style. The director may vary within the style of that historical period.

Zhdanov said that Eisenstein is fascinated by the shadows (which distracts viewers from the action), and the beard of Ivan the Terrible and that Ivan the Terrible raises his head too often, so that his beard can be seen.

Eisenstein promised to shorten the beard of Ivan the Terrible in future.

Stalin. (Recalling different actors from the first part of the film Ivan the Terrible) Kurbsky – is magnificent. Staritsky is very good (Artist Kadochnikov). He catches the flies excellently. Also: the future tsar, he is catching flies with his hands! These type of details are necessary. They reveal the essence of man.

…The conversation then switched to the situation in Czechoslovakia in connection with Cherkasov’s participation in the Soviet film festival. Cherkasov narrated the popularity of the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia.

The discussion then touched upon the destruction of the Czechoslovakian cities by the Americans.

Stalin. Our job was to enter Prague before the Americans. The Americans were in a great hurry, but owing to Koniev’s attack we were able to outdistance the Americans and strike Prague just before its fall. The Americans bombed Czechoslovakian industry. They maintained this policy throughout Europe, for them it was important to destroy those industries which were in competition with them. They bombed with taste.

Cherkasov spoke about the album of photographs of Franco and Goebbels which was with Ambassador Zorin at his villa.

Stalin. It is good that we finished these pigs. It is horrifying to think what would have happened if these scoundrels had won.

Cherkasov mentioned the graduation ceremony of the Soviet colony in Prague. He spoke of the children of emigrants who were studying there. It was very sad for these children who think of Russia as their motherland, as their home, when they were born there and had never been to Russia.

Stalin. It is unfortunate for these children. They are not at fault.

Molotov. Now we are giving a big opportunity to the children to return to Russia.

Stalin pointed to Cherkasov that he had the capacity for incarnation and that we have still the capacity to incarnate the artist Khmelev.

Cherkasov said that he had learnt a lot while working as an extra in the Marine Theatre in Leningrad. At that time the great master of incarnation Shaliapin acted and appeared on stage.

Stalin. He was a great actor.

Zhdanov asked: how is the shooting of the film Spring going on?

Cherkasov. We will finish it soon. Towards spring we are going to release Spring.

Zhdanov said that he liked the content of Spring a lot. The artist Orlova played very well.

Cherkasov. The artist Plyatt acted very well.

Zhdanov. And how did Ranevskaya act! (Waves his hand.)

Cherkasov. For the first time in my life I appeared in a film without a beard, without a moustache, without a cloak, without make-up. Playing the role of a director, I am a bit ashamed of my appearance and I feel like hiding behind my characters. This role is a lot of responsibility because I must represent a Soviet director and all our directors are worried: How will a Soviet director be shown?

Molotov. And here Cherkasov is settling scores with all the directors! When the film Spring was called into question, Cherkasov read an editorial in the newspaper Soviet Art regarding Spring and decided the film was already banned.

And then Zhdanov said: Cherkasov saw that all the preparations for Spring had perished so he took on the role of a janitor. Then Zhdanov spoke disapproving of the critical storm which had come up around Spring.

Stalin was interested to know how the actress Orlova had acted. He approved of her as an actress.

Cherkasov said that this actress had a great capability of working and an immense talent.

Zhdanov. Orlova acted extremely well. And everybody remembered Volga-Volga and the role of the postman Orlova had played.

Cherkasov. Have you watched In the Name of Life?

Stalin. No, I have not watched it, but we have a good report from Kliment Efremovich. Voroshilov liked the film.

Then that means that all the questions are solved. What do you think Comrades (addresses Molotov and Zhdanov), should we give Comrades Cherkasov and Eisenstein the opportunity to complete the film? – and added – please convey all this to Comrade Bolshakov.

Cherkasov asked about some details in the film and about the outward appearance of Ivan the Terrible.

Stalin. His appearance is right, there is no need to change it. The outward appearance of Ivan the Terrible is fine.

Cherkasov. Can the scene about the murder of Staritskova be retained in the scenario?

Stalin. You may retain it. The murder did take place.

Cherkasov. We have a scene in which Malyuta Skuratov strangles the Metropolit Philip.

Zhdanov. It was in the Tver Otroch-Monastery?

Cherkasov. Yes, is it necessary to keep this scene?

Stalin said that it was necessary to retain this scene as it was historically correct.

Molotov said it was necessary to show repression but at the same time one must show the purposes for which it was done. For this it was necessary to show state activities on a wider canvas and not to immerse oneself only with the scenes in the basements and enclosed areas. One must show wide state activity.

Cherkasov expressed his ideas regarding the future of the altered scenes and the second series.

Stalin. How does the film end? How better to do this, to make another two films – that is second and third series. How are we planning to this?

Eisenstein said that it was better to combine the already shot material of the second series with what was left of the scenario – and produce one big film.

Everyone agreed to this.

Stalin. How is your film going to end?

Cherkasov said that the film would end with the defeat of Livonia, the tragic death of Malyuta Skuratov, the march towards the sea where Ivan the Terrible is standing, surrounded by the army, and says, ‘We are standing on the sea and will be standing!’

Stalin. This is how it turned out and a bit more than this.

Cherkasov asked whether it would be necessary to show the outline of the film for confirmation by the Politburo.

Stalin. It is not necessary to present the scenario, decide it by yourselves. It is generally difficult to judge from the scenario, it is easier to talk about a ready product. (To Molotov.) You must be wanting to read the scenario?

Molotov. No, I work in other fields. Let Bolshakov read it.

Eisenstein said that it was better not to hurry with the production of this film.

This comment drew an active reaction from everybody.

Stalin. It is absolutely necessary not to hurry, and in general to hasten the film would lead to its being shut down rather than its being released. Repin worked on the Zaporozhye Cossacks Writing Their Reply to the Turkish Sultan for 11 years.

Molotov. 13 years.

Stalin. (with insistence) 11 years.

Everybody came to the conclusion that only a long spell of work may in reality produce a good film.

Regarding the film Ivan the Terrible Stalin said – That if necessary take one and a half, two even three years to produce this film. But the film should be good, it should be ‘sculptured’. We must raise quality. Let there be fewer films, but with greater quality. The viewer has grown up and we must show him good productions.

It was discussed that Tselikovskaya acted well in other characters, she acts well but she is a ballerina.

We answered that it was impossible to summon another actress to Alma-Ata.

Stalin said that the directors should be adamant and demand whatever they need. But our directors too easily yield on their own demands. It sometimes happens that a great actor is necessary but it is played by someone who does not suit the role. This is because the actor demands and receives the role while the director agrees.

Eisenstein. The actress Gosheva could not be released from the Arts Theatre in Alma-Ata for the shooting. We searched two years for an Anastasia.

Stalin. Artist Zharov incorrectly looked upon his character without any seriousness in the film Ivan the Terrible. He is not a serious Army-General.

Zhdanov. This is not Malyuta Skuratov but an opera-hat.

Stalin. Ivan the Terrible was a more nationalist tsar, more foresighted, he did not allow foreign influence in Russia. Peter 1st opened the gate to Europe and allowed in too many foreigners.

Cherkasov said that it was unfortunate and a personal shame that he had not seen the second part of the film Ivan the Terrible. When the film was edited and shown he had been at that time in Leningrad.

Eisenstein also added that he had not seen the complete version of the film because he had fallen ill after completing it.

This caused great surprise and animation.

The discussion ended with Stalin wishing them success and saying ‘May god help them!’

They shook hands and left. At 00.10 minutes the conversation ended.

An addition was made to this report by Eisenstein and Cherkasov:

‘Zhdanov also said: ‘In the film there is too much over-indulgence of religious rituals.’

Translated from the Russian by Sumana Jha.

Courtesy: G. Maryamov: Kremlevskii Tsenzor, Moscow, 1992, pp. 84-91.

This text is taken from one of the pages on the Revolutionary Democracy website, specifically J.V. Stalin: The Discussion with Sergei Eisenstein on the Film ‘Ivan the Terrible’

We thank those comrades for permission to reproduce the interview here.

More on the USSR – including other writings of JV Stalin