Ideological Interpellations in the Films about the Ukrainian People’s Republic in the Ukrainian Cultural Context (based on “Symon Petliura’s Secret Diary” (2018) and “Kruty 1918” (2019))




politics of history, modern Ukrainian cinema, “Symon Petliura’s secret diary”, “Kruty 1918”, Ukrainian State Film Agency (Derzhkino), ideology, Ukrainian People’s Republic, Louis Althusser, state ideological apparatus, historical representation in film


In 2014–2019, funding of the Ukrainian State Film Agency (Derzhkino) increased annually, which led to a revival of film production in Ukraine. Pylyp Illienko, who was the Head of the Agency at the time, openly said that cinematography for him was a means of shaping the national consciousness and the weapon “more effective than Kalashnikov”. Using Louis Althusser’s theory of ideology, we came to the conclusion that together with the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, Derzhkino as a state ideological apparatus was strongly engaged in the affirmation of the “national/nationalist narrative of history” (the term of historian Heorhiy Kasianov) which was the central element of the conservative ideology of Petro Poroshenko’s presidency.
Specifically, we analyzed a number of questions that often arise when dealing with the historical film: whether it constitutes a valid mode of historical representation, whether it serves as a source of historical knowledge and why it is used as an instrument of politics of history. Although research approaches differ in regard of the first question, they share a similar view of the ideological function of such films and an important role, which they play in shaping the notion of the past. In addition, historical films appear to be a convenient way to assert certain events in the repertoire of politically usable past or to help the construction of a national identity. As ideological instruments films “Symon Petliura’s secret diary” by Oles Yanchuk and “Kruty 1918” by Oleksiy Shaparyev promote the logic of the “reversed history” (Kasianov’s term) which is central for the “national/nationalist narrative of history”. Moreover, these films represent events of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921 and the Ukrainian People’s Republic in order to use them as a resource of legitimation as well as a means of protection against narratives of the Kremlin propaganda, which tend to undermine Ukrainian statehood. Both films hail or “interpellate” viewers in order to mobilize them and to assert the “eternal” nature of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Manuscript received 11.05.2020

Author Biographies

Kateryna Bohuslavska, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

postgraduate student at the Department of Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Humanities of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). Main research fields: politics of history in Ukraine and Russian Federation, memory studies, Ukrainian and Russian modern cinema, film theory.

Olha Briukhovetska, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

PhD (Philosophy), Senior Lecturer at the Department of Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Humanities of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). Main research fields: visual culture, film theory, Ukrainian cinema of the 1960s.


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