The article is devoted to the formation of the image of the pre-revolutionary history of Russia on the example of Yuri Tarich's film Wings of Serf (1926). In the first post-revolutionary decade, there was a departure from previous standards in the image of national history. Authors searched for new forms of screen representations of past events. Although the film inherits the tradition of depicting the king as a murderer and tyrant, the creators – director Yuri Tarich and screenwriter Victor Shklovsky – tried to transfer on screen revolutionary understanding of history. The film is influenced
by historical theory of Mikhail Pokrovsky, and Shklovsky introduced the economic element in the scenario as the main engine of the plot.
The avant-garde figures who came to cinema (Shklovsky, first of all, was a literary critic) came up with the rules of screenwriting craft on the go and challenged the boundaries of cinema's possibilities in practice. The purpose of Wings of Serf’s screenplay was to move away from the one-sided image of Ivan the Terrible and determine his actions as of economic basis. Shklovsky and Tarich developed the idea of the revolutionary remaking of the image of the past in their next work, the film version of Captain's Daughter.
The article covers the history of foreign screenings of Wings of Serf, focusing on the history of censorship bans and re-editing of the film for USA. The author shows in the article the possible influence of Wings of Serf on Ivan the Terrible by Sergei Eisenstein, which is implicitly present in both artistic and plot terms.
Despite success and foreign distribution, the movie was visually traditional, realistic, and researchers considered, most often, as the prologue before radical change of the relation to Ivan the Terrible in the thirties. The article shows how filmmakers of the first decade after the revolution used to work with historical material.