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May 2, 2021
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Unique photos of the Moscow cinema

Today I will tell you about one of the most unusual Moscow cinemas. Despite its unique architecture, the project of the Rodina cinema was harshly criticized at the time.

The critical article was written by a certain architect G.I. Glushchenko. From the brief information that is available about him on the Internet, you can see that the list of his architectural projects is small. His surname is mentioned among other architects who created the project of the 208-apartment residential building of Gubzhilsoyuz in Ivanovo. I do not know about other projects in which Glushchenko took part.

On the other hand, the author of the Rodina cinema project, Viktor Petrovich Kalmykov, was in the pre-war years the chief specialist in the design and construction of cinemas in the USSR. It has 50 cinemas out of 60 built in the USSR in the 5 pre-war years.

The Rodina cinema was built in 1938. A critical article about this cinema was in the magazine “Construction of Moscow” in No. 20 for 1938.

The article contains 6 photos from this issue of the magazine. I do not exclude that these photos are published on the Internet for the first time.

The most unusual thing about the architecture of the cinema was the presence of a summer foyer on its roof. Wikipedia writes that a restaurant functioned there for some time. It still seems to me that there was an ordinary buffet or cafe that the audience visited before the sessions. I have not seen any photos of this restaurant or cafe on the Internet.

Judging by this photograph from the archives of the Museum of Moscow, various sculptures were installed on the roof. I don’t know how many of them there were in total, but the photo clearly shows three statues.

Summer foyer on the roof of the Rodina cinema. Photo by V. Oleinik, 1938. From the funds of the Museum of Moscow

In this photo you can see a monument to the famous border guard Nikita Karatsupe, along with his equally famous dog Indus.

Unfortunately, during one of the renovations of the cinema, all the sculptures on the roof of the Rodina cinema disappeared without a trace.

Summer foyer on the roof of the Rodina cinema. Photo from the magazine “Construction of Moscow” №20, 1938

The author of the article in the magazine, noting the “pleasant in appearance and location of the summer foyer,” at the same time criticizes the steep and difficult stairs to climb. It would be nice if elevators were planned in the cinema project. He also criticizes architects for the lack of a private toilet in the summer rooftop foyer.

Summer foyer on the roof of the Rodina cinema. Photo from the magazine “Construction of Moscow” №20, 1938

The internal organization of the space got much more than the exterior of the Rodina cinema. Glushchenko walked through the construction of the auditorium. He noted the unfortunate location of the boxes, from which it is not very convenient to watch films.

The auditorium of the Rodina cinema. Photo from the magazine “Construction of Moscow” №20, 1938

There are a lot of comments in the article, and I don’t want to burden readers with detailed information. There are also various clever words, such as “entablatures” and “stringers”.

I will note a few more shortcomings to which Glushchenko drew attention:

– poor quality of mosaic works;
– large and heavy platbands of window openings;
– the architecture of the interiors is not of particular interest;
– the buffet of the winter lobby resembles the decoration of a bathroom

etc.

The auditorium of the Rodina cinema. Photo from the magazine “Construction of Moscow” №20, 1938

The author of the article regrets that the architect did not plan an appropriate place for the statues of V.I. Lenin and I.V. Stalin. The statues were eventually installed, but critics thought that the place for this was not chosen very well and this is the fault of the designers.

Foyer of the Rodina cinema. Photo from the magazine “Construction of Moscow” №20, 1938

Despite such harsh criticism, the author of the project, the architect Kalmykov, did not suffer in any way, and the cinema has survived to this day almost in its original form.

A photograph of the Rodina cinema was featured on the cover of a magazine featuring a critical article by the architect Glushchenko.

Cinema “Rodina”. Photo from the magazine “Construction of Moscow” №20, 1938

Architect Glushchenko believes that “despite the simplicity, clarity and brevity of the plan, the new cinema is replete with a number of shortcomings, indicating that the author of the project did not think everything through to the end.”

Another interesting fact. The original author of the Rodina cinema project was the architect Yakov Kornfeld. However, his name is not mentioned in the article at all.

Cover photo: Rodina cinema. Photo from pastvu.com



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