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Global Russian Cinema in the Digital Age: The Films of Timur Bekmambetov

Gray, Richard Beach (2016) Global Russian Cinema in the Digital Age: The Films of Timur Bekmambetov. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation analyzes the films of director and producer Timur Bekmambetov, who works in both Hollywood and Russia. He has contributed to the stabilization of the contemporary Russian film industry, and this dissertation focuses on the digital techniques present in his otherwise live-action films. One such technique is a new way of cinematic representation that I term “object perspective.” Digital sequences often feature an inanimate, everyday object that acts as a focal point, taking the spectator on a “ride” through cinematic space that rivals video games and the real-world amusement park. “Object perspective” is a device that challenges ideas about point of view, cinematic pleasure, and the way in which even everyday objects may be gendered by cinematic means of representation. This effect is analyzed with attention to product placement and scopophilia within his films.

Other techniques, such as virtual kinetic subtitles and digital dubbing, transform his films to cater to local audiences. These techniques are themselves a form of branding that sends a message to the audience: they are special and deserve a localized form of the product. Other effects—such as digital composites of fan extras—are contextualized in a post-Soviet cinema. These films meet both global commercial demands and the ideological framework of Putin’s state cinema industry. Bekmambetov’s work struggles to reach local audiences separated by linguistic and cultural differences in a way that attempts to erase past trauma and to project an image of the present as available to social and economic advancement for all.

I conclude that the organizing principle for these digital techniques is the attempt to garner greater participation for spectators. These films draw on the techniques of the avant-garde (such as revealing the device), but in an effort that does not alienate the viewer. Rather, they function as an opportunity for further immersion, or as an endorsement for a real-world product or a real-world political regime.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gray, Richard Beachbeach.gray@gmail.comRBG10
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCondee, Nancycondee@pitt.eduCONDEE
Committee MemberPadunov, Vladimirpadunov@pitt.eduPADUNOV
Committee MemberHalle, Randallrhalle@pitt.eduRHALLE
Committee MemberMorgan,
Date: 29 September 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 April 2016
Approval Date: 29 September 2016
Submission Date: 23 June 2016
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 227
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Film Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Global, Russian cinema, digital cinema, Timur Bekmambetov, Bazelevs, ideology, object perspective, dubbing, subtitles, virtual, index, Hollywood cinema, Night Watch, Day Watch, Elki, Wanted, Irony of Fate. The Continuation, Osobo opasen
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2016 01:26
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2021 05:15


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