What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? An Upper-Class Homo Sovieticus Caught in the Gears of Soviet Modernity

Open access


This article looks at What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? (Mis juhtus Andres Lapeteusega, Estonia, 1966), a film that marked the directing debut of Russian-Estonian theatre and film director Grigori Kromanov, as a cinematographic narrative that follows the development of a homo sovieticus. The concept of homo sovieticus, initially simply an ironic reference to the “New Soviet Man” promoted in the official Soviet vocabulary, was elaborated in the 1980s and 1990s by several thinkers and writers from Eastern Europe into a concept allowing for a more analytical description of the bureaucratic human type that developed under the Soviet regime. The German- American philosopher Hannah Arendt in her renowned The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) found that the juridical, the moral, and the individual in a man could most effectively be killed in concentration camps. The Russian philosopher Aleksandr Zinoviev and the Polish philosopher Józef Tischner, however, have seen the homo sovieticus syndrome as resulting from spiritual rather than physical imprisonment. Predisposed by the planned Soviet economy, which did not motivate Soviet people to make any creative, intellectual, or moral efforts, homo sovieticus soon started to represent a certain official ritualistic behaviour that maintained the symbolic legitimacy of power.

What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? tells the story of an ambitious young Estonian official during Stalinist and post-Stalinist years, but does it in a novel way for its time, tackling the popular criticism of the cult of personality in the Thaw era from the viewpoint of individual responsibility. Offering a charismatic black-and-white version of the novel The Case of Andres Lapeteus (Andres Lapeteuse juhtum, 1963) by the Estonian writer Paul Kuusberg, Kromanov’s new wave film still makes us ponder the often avoided and delicate issue of the Sovietisation of the Baltic states from the inside.

Arendt, Hannah [1951] 1973. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Arendt, Hannah [1963] 2006. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Penguin Books.

Cantorovich, Nati 2007. ‘Soviet Reactions to the Eichmann Trial: A Preliminary Investigation 1960-1965’. - Yad Vashem Studies, 35, 2, 103-141.

Havel, Václav 1978. The Power of the Powerless. http://vaclavhavel.cz/showtrans.php?cat=clanky&val=72_aj_clanky.html&typ=HTML (4 June 2014).

Hoffmann, David L. 2000. ‘European Modernity and Soviet Socialism’. - David L. Hoffmann, Yanni Kotsonis (eds.), Russian Modernity: Politics, Knowledge, Practices. London: Macmillan Press; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 245-260.

Hruštšov, Nikita 1957. ‘Kirjandus ja kunst olgu tihedalt seotud rahva eluga’. - Rahva Hääl, 30 August.

Каменский, Александр 1989. Романтический монтаж. Москва: Советский художник.

Koppel, Margit-Mariann 1998. ‘KGB hammasrataste vahel - Heino Mandri’. - Teater. Muusika. Kino, 10, 43-44.

Kuusberg, Paul 1966. Andres Lapeteuse juhtum. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat.

Langemets, Andres 2010. ‘Üks suur ja mäda põlvkond’. - KesKus, 3.

Lõhmus, Jaak; Vaher, Märten 2012. Kaadris: “Mis juhtus Andres Lapeteusega?”. http://arhiiv.err.ee/vaata/ kaadris-mis-juhtus-andres-lapeteusega (20 October 2014).

Marody, Mira 2010. ‘Homo Sovieticus and the Change of Values: The Case of Poland’. - Landmark 1989: Central and Eastern European Societies Twenty Years After the System Change. Berlin, Münster: Lit, 80-90.

Miłosz, Czesław 1999. Vangistatud mõistus. Trans. Hendrik Lindepuu. Tallinn: Loomingu Raamatukogu.

Nirk, Endel 1963. ‘Mis juhtus Andres Lapeteusega?’ - Keel ja Kirjandus, 12, 705-712.

Näripea, Eva 2006. ‘Film, ruum ja narratiiv: ‘Mis juhtus Andres Lapeteusega?’ ning ‘Viini postmark’’ / ‘Film, Space and Narrative: ‘What Happened to Andres Lapeteus?’ and ‘The Postage-Stamp of Vienna’’. - Kunstiteaduslikke Uurimusi / Studies on Art and Architecture, 15, 4, 55-76.

Palm, Vilja 1986. Õhtutund kirjanikuga: Paul Kuusberg. http://arhiiv.err.ee/vaata/ohtutund-kirjanikugapaul-kuusberg (20 October 2014).

Prokhorov, Alexander 2001. ‘The Unknown New Wave: Soviet Cinema of the Sixties’. - Alexander Prokhorov (ed.), Springtime for Soviet Cinema: Re/Viewing the 1960s. Pittsburgh, 7-28. http://www.rusfilm.pitt.edu/booklets/Thaw.pdf (8 June 2014).

Rahvusarhiiv. ERA, f R-1707, n 1, s 963. Kunstilise fi lmi “Mis juhtus Andres Lapeteusega” toimik. 1966.

Tischner, Józef 2005. Etyka solidarności oraz Homo sovieticus. Krakow: Znak.

Tyszka, Krzysztof 2009. ‘‘Homo Sovieticus’ Two Decades Later’. - Polish Sociological Review, 168, 507-522.

Undusk, Jaan 2009. ‘Eesti lugu: Paul Kuusberg ‘Andres Lapeteuse juhtum’’. - Eesti Päevaleht, 12 June.

Зиновьев, Александр 1981. Коммунизм как реальность. Lausanne: L’Âge d’Homme.

Зиновьев, Александр 1983. Нашей юности полёт. Lausanne: L’Âge d’Homme.

Zinoviev, Alexander 1985. Homo Sovieticus. Boston, New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press.

Zubkova, Jelena 2009. Baltimaad ja Kreml 1940-1953. Trans. Margus Leemets. Tallinn: Varrak.

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 23 23 8
PDF Downloads 4 4 2