The Georgian-born filmmaker Michail Kalatozov (19031973) is best remembered for directing some of the most innovative and successful Soviet films of the 1950s and 1960s. This DVD presents digitally restored versions of two of his lesser-known, early works, which were highly controversial in their time but now rank among the finest achievements in Soviet silent cinema. Salt for Svanetia is an austere depiction of peasant life in the inhospitable terrain of the Caucasus Mountains. Nail in the Boot, a biting parable of wartime irresponsibility, chillingly prefigures the later Stalinist purge trials. Günter Buchwald’s and Stephen Horne’s prize-winning scores and the experimental accompaniment by Masha Khotimshi underline the poetic and expressive visual style of these exceptional masterpieces.
In terms of ideology, Dzim Svante was a model example of the agitprop genre, which was being promoted by the emerging Stalinist regime at the time of the film’s release. In a direct, poster-like form, the film praised the socialist mastery of nature and the struggle against social backwardness. However, aided by Tret’jakov’s poetic journalism, and the talents of co-cinematographer alva Gegelavili as well as art director Davit Kakabadze, an avant-garde artist with an active interest in Georgian cultural traditions, Kalatozov transformed a proto-Socialist-Realist tale into an expression of the classical philosophical notion of ‘the dynamic sublime’, related both to nature and to human existence.
Subtitles:English, German, Georgian