Soviet Circus, Inside the

Screenwriters: Miriam Birch

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


Of all the world’s circuses, the Russian Circus, many believe, rightfully deserves the title “greatest show on earth.” Administered by the government, treated as art, studied as science, and supported by a devoted audience 72 million strong in the soviet Union alone, about 100 circus troupes perform in the U.S.S.R. today—more than in all the rest of the world combined.

A rare look at life in the U.S.S.R., this special focuses on the essence of the Russian circus—the performers and their acts. For the acrobats, aerialists, clowns,magicians and animal trainers who spend 11 months of the year on the road, life revolves around the circus. Sharing a love for their craft, they maintain a close camaraderie. National Geographic cameras capture the spirit of the performers backstage and in practice areas—where controlled pandemonium sometimes prevails.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

  • Section: National Geographic Society: A Centennial Celebration
  • Film Type: Documentary Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 58 min.


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