Before the eyes of the vast, ignorant masses of the eastern nationalities, the fast-moving frames of cinema will reproduce the many achievements of human knowledge. For the illiterate audience, the electric beam of the magic motion-picture lamp will define new concepts and images, will make the wealth of knowledge more easily accessible to the backward mind.
Bakinskii rabochii, 18 September 1923
Pictures, so the first Bolsheviks believed, speak louder than words. Visual propaganda was essential in their campaign to reach the illiterate and poorly literate masses, to engage them in a new Soviet style of life. By the end of the civil war, every leading member of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party valued the political uses of film. As commissar of nationalities, Iosef Stalin recognized its potential; in his simple expression, film was “the greatest means of mass agitation.” Like cinema, the Bolsheviks appeared at the confluence of two worlds, the traditional and the modern. For them, film was the perfect medium by which to critique the old and celebrate the new. Film viewed the world as they did, with one measure of hard realism, another of soft utopianism.