Abstract

Among Dziga Vertov's films, Three Songs of Lenin is unique in its immediate and enduring approval within the Soviet Union. The film was commissioned for the tenth anniversary of Lenin's death and made extensive use of archival material documenting Lenin's political trajectory and his funeral. Annette Michelson offers a reading of the film's political function within the historical situation of the USSR in the 1930s, claiming that the register and scale of Three Songs of Lenin make the film a “kinetic icon” for the deceased leader. Michelson discusses similarities between religious icons and films, particularly the way in which death haunts both, and she examines the way in which the film's emphasis on the role of the female mourner enables it to transform document into monument.

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