by acting troupes on the run from local authorities who condemned their works as a threat either to local moral sensibilities or to tsarist authority. The arrival of the People's House (narodnyi dom) via England and Germany in the 1880s combined traditional elements of peasant carnivals with the repertoires of travelling theatrical productions. People's Houses were about more than theatre, for they often included libraries and tearooms for more serious gatherings.24
The appearance ofthe cinema offered numerous opportunities and limitless possibilities for interaction between diverse social strata. Within four years of the first Russian film production in 1908, cinema reached all segments of the population, urban and rural, literate and illiterate, well off or indigent, who now had a common cultural form that could be shared instantaneously and simultaneously Ready themes from folk tales, popular literature and the traditional lubok helped to idealise and exaggerate the role of religious faith in the life of Russia. Supporting a ban on representation of Orthodox clergymen and religious ritual on screen, church leaders were unable to utilise this new cultural medium to promote their own interests, to instruct the faithful or to probe important religious issues. Increasingly, both the higher and the parish clergy viewed cinema as a rival to religious services and as a hypnotic influence on the youth who were swept away by the exciting and often risque themes of the movies. When folk tradition was portrayed cinematically, it was often cast in a negative light no better than the image of the upper classes and their hangers-on who favoured illicit love, excessive drinking, abundant luxury, and new morals that rejected traditional social norms - all implicitly subversive qualities that had little concern for Orthodox piety.25 Keenly aware as the tsarist authorities were of the power of cinema, they never made systematic use of film for propaganda purposes until the outbreak of World War I. Instead, they followed the well-worn path of trying to return the genie to the bottle and, in much the same way as the church, refused to allow independent filmmakers to portray or to use images of the imperial household on the silver screen, except when royal image makers created their own propaganda. The chief examples were short clips ofthe coronation ofNicholas II in 1896, documentary
24 G. A. Khaichenko, Russkii narodnyi teatr kontsa XlX-nachala XX veka (Moscow: Nauka, 1975), 115-16.
25 N. M. Zorkaia, Na rubezhe stoletii: u istokov massovogo iskusstva v Rossii, 1900-1910 godov (Moscow: Nauka, 1976), ch. 1; Y. Tsivian, Early cinema in Russia and its cultural reception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998); J. Leyda, Kino: a history of the Russian and Soviet film, third edition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), chs. 1-7; R. Stites, Russian popular culture: entertainment and society since 1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 27-34.
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