The aim of this essay is to demonstrate the close relation between the partisan as a figure of versatility and partisan film as a genre prone to appropriate other genre features, from war film to comedy, inverted western, espionage melodrama and others. This ability of mimicry (the actualization of a number of potential options) is rooted in the political nature of both, the partisan and the genre of partisan film. Due to this political quality, what becomes relevant for the definition of the genre is the close link of each ‘exemplar’ to the ideological, cultural, and social status quo. For the first time in the history of cinema a genre is highly synchronized with the historical being of a state, namely the Soviet Union. Focussing on the early years of Soviet partisan film (from Pyrev and Ėrmler, from Donskoy to Arnštam, and from Room to the partisan novellas of the Boevye kinosborniki) I want to show that history and film history were never linked as tight as then. Transgression and irregularity, border-crossing between family and state, the private and the military – those features determine the partisan as well as the genre of partisan film.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!