UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


‘His Majesty the Working Class’: Iurii Klepikov and Vitalii Mel’nikov’s Mother’s Got Married, Lenfil’m, and the Aesthetics of ‘Contemporary Life’ in the Soviet Cinema, 1961-1970

25 January 2016, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Iurii Klepikov and Vitalii Mel’nikov’s Mother’s Got Married, Lenfil’m…

Event Information


Room 432, UCL SSEES, 16 Taviton Street WC1H 0BW

Catriona Kelly (Oxford) looks in detail at the major row that took place in 1965-1969 over Iurii Klepikov's script about a middle-aged woman's conflicts with her son after she acquires a new partner, and later Vitalii Mel'nikov's filmed version of this. 

While not one of the sensational cases of a 'shelved' film that attracted much attention from the glasnost era onwards, Mother's Got Married shows how addressing an apparently 'safe' subject - the life of the Leningrad working class - could present authors and film crews with a whole host of political and aesthetic problems. Catriona also shows that the conflict over the film had strong generational overtones and that its handling had a strongly pedagogical coloration, as experienced film-makers attempted to guide work by 'young directors' according to the principles of what an influential figure at the studio, Joseph Heifitz, described in unintentionally paradoxical terms as 'socialist neo-realism'. Her paper is based on work for a book on the 'younger generation' of film-makers in the Leningrad studio after its reorganization into 'creative units' in 1961.

Catriona Kelly is Professor of Russian at the University of Oxford, Fellow of New College and Lecturer at Merton College. Catriona works on Russian literature and on Russian cultural history, particularly Russian modernism, gender history, the history of childhood, national identity, and the recent history of Leningrad/St Petersburg. She has published a large number of books and articles in these areas, sponsored by grants from the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy. From 2007 to 2011, she led a large international project on Russian national identity, sponsored by a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her study of cultural memory in Leningrad/St Petersburg since 1957, supported by work in archives, interviews, and first-hand observation as well as work with printed sources, St Petersburg: Shadows of the Past, was published by Yale University Press in 2014. Soviet and Post-Soviet Identities, co-edited with Mark Bassin, came out in 2012 from Cambridge University Press. Other interests include oral history. Catriona Kelly also works as a literary translator, particularly of poetry, and writes for the general literary press (particularly The Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement). In 2013, she was pre-elected President of the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, USA (ASEEES) for 2015. She is the first person not working at a US university to hold this position.