Aleksandr Rodchenko’s War of the Future (1930) and the lingering memory of chemical warfare

Aleksandr Rodchenko’s grim sci-fi vision of the War of the Future (1930) illustrates the extent to which the terror of chemical warfare and advanced implements of destruction haunted the Soviet and European imagination of conflict following World War I and the Russian Civil War. Death-rays and dirigibles. Howitzers and skyscrapers. Chiaroscuro gas-masks.

Rodchenko’s War of the Future (1930)

Compare Rodchenko’s photomontage with the early Soviet board game Chemical Warfare (1925) below.

Chemical Warfare (1925)

And compare with other examples of towering light-rays in conjunction with marvels of modern engineering.

Rays from the Eiffel Tower, 1889

4 thoughts on “Aleksandr Rodchenko’s War of the Future (1930) and the lingering memory of chemical warfare

    • If you’d like to do a write-up on chemical/biological warfare in Soviet cinema, I’d be glad to republish/promote it on this blog. It’s a fascinating subject.

      Have you ever read Maiakovskii’s “Flying Proletarian”?

  1. yes, it would be a really fascinating subject to write on (I’ll see what I can find out about the subject)- I’m desperately hoping I can get to view Timoshchenko’s film -napoleon gaz – again (it seems rather unavailable on the internet), I was lucky to have got to watch it at the Cinema Museum in Moscow 7 years ago. I’ve haven’t read the Mayakovsky poem (but it’s definitely now on my reading list)- so far I’ve just seen the animated film made from it in 1962 .

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