"Chapaev" is the most popular film of the Soviet era. Directed by Georgi and Sergei Vasilev, it tells of the legendary exploits of the Red Army Commander Vasili Ivanovich Chapaev during the Russian Civil War. Its greatest fan was Joseph Stalin, who saw it 38 times at late-night showings in the Kremlin. It was both praised by Party ideologues for its faithfulness to the Bolshevik cause and loved by mass audiences for its adventure sequences and its tragic love story. For over seventy years, "Chapaev", Furmanov the Commissar, Petka and Anka have remained heroes of the Russian popular imagination. This illuminating and enjoyable companion tells the story of the real-life Chapaev, of the novel by Dmitri Furmanov, and of the struggles to make the film. Julian Graffy offers a detailed analysis of the film itself and then considers Chapaev's extraordinary after-life. The film provoked poetry by Osip Mandelstam and a novel by Viktor Pelevin, operas and scabrous popular anecdotes. Graffy shows that to understand Chapaev's appeal is to understand something about what it means to be Russian.
Julian Graffy is Professor of Russian Literature and Cinema at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He has written widely on Russian literature and film and is the author of the Kinofile Film Companion to Abram Room's film Bed and Sofa (I.B.Tauris, 2001).
‘The mandate of the KINOfiles Film Companion series released by I.B. Tauris is to provide authoritative, approachable studies of the high points of Russian and Soviet cinema. The latest addition to this series, Julian Graffy’s Chapaev, meets this target, if not in fact – in true Soviet style – over fulfilling it… Graffy tackles the film [Chapaev] and its rich afterlife with energy, using a free-flowing and at times cyclical narrative style to approach Chapaev from multiple directions.’
European History Quarterly
‘Julian Graffy’s Chapaev packs a wealth of information and insight into its lively study of the hugely popular 1934 film about Soviet Civil War hero Ivan Vasilevich Chapaev... Commissioned for I. B. Tauris’s useful series of ‘companions’ to major Soviet films, Graffy’s study offers an exemplary synthesis of film analysis and cultural history…Graffy’s Chapaev is destined to become the essential first stop for all students of the film, but it is also a book to which specialists will turn – and return – both as an invaluable reference and as one of the most perceptive analyses, in any language, of this landmark film.’
Susan Larsen, Journal of European Studies
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: KINOfiles Film CompanionPaperback
Publication Date: 18 Dec 2009
Number of Pages: 144