Gesture is not only a movement that expresses a feeling or a rhetorical device but a sign that helps to distinguish oneself from others by denoting different social backgrounds or ideological properties (nobility vs. peasantry, Bolsheviks vs. anarchists, proletariat vs. capitalists, Soviet people vs. Western bourgeoisie etc.). Gestures permit everyone to confirm his or her belonging to one particular group and to indicate and maintain the hierarchy among the groups.
At the beginning of the century cinema classified the cultural and social differences within a society that underwent a major social and cultural shift after the revolution of 1917. Soviet film in the 1920s had to define a new set of distinctions for the citizens of the new society. Art and social institutions proposed different, sometimes contradictory models of the new body language (in the utopian concepts of behavioural institutes like ZIT or on the screen) that should be imitated in reality.
The book addresses the metamorphoses of body language in Russian and Soviet society through the 20th century as evidenced by documentary and fiction films, private and professional photography, visual arts, literature (fiction, advice literature, educational publications, memoirs, diaries, reportages) and theatre. The purpose of this research is not the investigation of the different ways of behaviour or methods of acting but rather the study of a program to elaborate new anthropological types � the man of the modernity and homo soveticus.