Ilya Gerasimov’s review article on the recent Nikita Mikhalkov’s movie The Barber of Siberia directly addresses the major theme of the journal section The Newest Mythologies, namely construction and reconstruction of the imperial and national past in the contemporary discourse of culture and politics. The Barber of Siberia as a cultural product is situated in the broad context of conceptual and political changes of the post-imperial period of Russian history. The author suggests that the movie could be considered both as a blueprint for and reflection of the psychological need in a new Russian empire. The movie is subjected to a textual analysis which reveals the ambiguous transformation of the attempted idealization and nationalization (as Russian/russkaia) of the empire’s historical image in the semantic field of Russian culture and politics. According to Ilya Gerasimov, the movie, interpreted as a text, deviates from the Mikhalkov’s blueprint, encapsulating an alternative perspective on such basic venues of Russian history as relationship between Russia and Europe, technology and organic society, political oppression and individual liberty. The article leaves open the question of the movie’s impact on the construction of the empire in Russia, contemporary and past.


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pp. 253-260
Launched on MUSE
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