Representations of cinema in Soviet children’s books offered their readers organizational models and instructional manuals for navigating encounters with film. Books such as Tat’iana Shishmareva’s Film-tricks (Kino-zagadki, 1930) and F. Kobrinets’s A Book-Film-Performance About How Pioneer Hans Saved the Strike Committee (Knizhka-kino-seans o tom, kak pioner Gans Stachechnyĭ Komitet spas, 1931), present related approaches to viewer education as they respectively display how films are made and promote film production.
While Shishmareva’s book has a revelatory function, presenting a series of behind-the-scene examples to illustrate how dramatic shots are staged, the ideological narrative in Kobrinets’s book about a young German pioneer warning the strike committee of an impending police raid is followed by instructions on how to convert the book material into a projected film, giving the book a transformative capacity.
The shared pedagogical goal of these books is to help readers discern the credibility of film images, but they frame the reader’s experience differently, as either cinematic illusion or emblematic representation.
My project investigates the use of Film-tricks and A Book-Film-Performance as means of presenting historically determined understandings of film as a medium. Through close analysis of their design and composition, these books will be considered for the kind of messages they present and how they define cinema.