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Art is one of the ways people communicate with one another. Every work of art brings the viewer to into a special kind of relationship, both with whoever has created or is creating the art and also with everyone else who—together with him, or before or afterwards—is subject to that
artistic impression.
—Leo Tolstoy

It would be a mistake to ascribe this creative power
to an inborn talent.
In art, the genius creator is not just a gifted being, but a person who has succeeded in arranging for their appointed end, a complex of activities, of which the work is the outcome, requiring an effort.
—Henri Matisse

Art is so varied that to reduce it to any single purpose, be it even the salvation of mankind, is an abomination before the Lord.
—Nikolai Gumilev

Conception, my boy, fundamental brain work,
is what makes all the difference in art.
—Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Art is art.
Everything else is everything else.
—Ad Reinhardt

It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance…
and I know of no substitute whatever
for the force and beauty of its process.
—Henry James

It's not what you look at that matters,
it's what you see.
—Henry David Thoreau

Our Movies & the Russians

How We Saw the Other Side

Our Movies & the Russians is a multi-faceted ongoing series of screenings focusing on the surprisingly dense representation of Russians from the early years of US cinema to the present day. Throughout, the audience will discover a few key overarching themes, while other fears and prejudices are specific only to one or another period. The latter include the 1950s American fears about Communism, which often manifested themselves through science-fiction metaphors; there are also the 1910s sense of social superiority to the wild and backwards Russians, the 1930s’ hopes and fears surrounding the Soviets and their social experiment, and the intense vilification of the Soviets in the first half of the 1980’s. The project runs the gamut, bringing in art films and popular films, silent and sound, color and black-and-white, serious and comic, old and new. The films range from the 1997’s popcorn thriller Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford, to the ambitious 1928 The Last Command, touching and tragic, with Emil Jannings, the delightful and iconoclastic Tovarich, with Claudette Colbert, the 1912 The Making an American Citizen—simultaneously crazily politically correct and politically incorrect!—and even a Felix the Cat cartoon!

Each movie will be introduced by a film or history expert; following each will be a open, guided public discussion. A section of the Cause Artium web site will contain a wealth of related content for those interested in learning a bit more—or a lot more—about the issues involved, the deeper meanings and contexts.

The initial selection of films will introduce viewers to the broad range of themes and ideas that has reflected and even created America’s images of Russia and the Russians in different eras, each film with its own take on the Russian and Soviet culture, mind, character and intentions.