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Constructing National Identity in Soviet Estonian Documentary Cinema: A Case Study of the Documentary Ruhnu (1965) by Andres Sööt

Abstract

This article aims to find out how Soviet Estonian documentaries constructed the national discourse in the 1960s, by focusing on the case of the 10-minute documentary Ruhnu (1965) by Andres Sööt. Ruhnu was the first Soviet Estonian documentary released after World War II that romanticised Estonian nationalism. In order to narrate the national ideals considered undesirable by the official ideology, the Soviet Estonian filmmakers often chose to portray characters embedded in the national consciousness as archetypal heroes from pre-Soviet times and the landscapes associated with them. In the desire for past times, national heroes and idealised landscapes were constructed and naturalised in a contemporary context. The article raises the question - what kind of heroes, landscapes and activities were used to construct the national identity and which elements of film language were used? The research method used, critical discourse analysis, allows us to analyse the archetypes created in the documentary and the archetypal landscapes used as a framework for the narrative.

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