Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Zemlya AKA Earth (1930)

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Quote:
Dovzhenko was commissioned to make what was intended to be a minor propaganda film to encourage the establishment of farming collectives. Under Dovzhenko’s lyrical montage and photography what emerged far exceeded propaganda; Earth has repeatedly made every international top ten film list. Continue reading

Aleksandr Ptushko – Skazka o poteryannom vremeni aka A Tale of Lost Times (1964)

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Quote:
One day, four sorcerers appeared out of the blue in the streets of a small town. These evil old people had long been dreaming of getting back their former vigor and youth. But to do that, they had to find people who would aimlessly waste their time. And they were very lucky: four schoolchildren had proved ideal guinea pigs for the magicians. The kids and the old people changed their roles for a while. You can’t even imagine what happened! The schoolchildren had to hide for some time in an abandoned house on the outskirts of the town – they just couldn’t appear before their parents as bearded, bent, old persons. Meanwhile, the sorcerers had their fun at school in the guise of their victims. And only on a certain day and at a certain hour, time could be turned back again…
ruscico Continue reading

Nikolai Gubenko – Podranki aka The Orphans (1977)

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Synopsis
The original Russian title Podranki can be translated as War Orphans. The protagonist is an adult writer who undergoes a flashback at the drop of a hat. He recalls how he was orphaned when his father was killed in World War II and his mother committed suicide. He remembers the appalling treatment afforded him by a sadistic orphanage official. And he muses over his losing contact with his brothers and sisters. This is why the grown-up writer is currently involved in lobbying for better treatment of Russian orphans. Orphans caused a minor stir in 1977 when it became the first Russian film in nearly two decades to be chosen for the Cannes Film Festival by the festival judges, rather than being submitted by the Soviets. The film did not see the light of a carbon arc in America until 1980. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Continue reading

Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg – S.V.D. – Soyuz velikogo dela AKA Union of the Great Cause (1927)

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Summary:
The film tells about the Decembrists’ revolt in the south of Russia.

(imdb)
A failed Russian Revolution succeeded magnificently on screen., 3 June 1999
Author: Theodore J. van Houten from Haamstede, 4328 ZG 1 Netherlands

S.V.D. was released in August 1927. A beautiful costume drama, it is on the other hand a somewhat expressionistic, poetical fantasy. Its photography and images are more important than its desired political contents. The script, written by the inspiring historian Yuri Tinyanov (director Leonid Trauberg [1901-1990]could speak about Tinyanov for hours) supplied a failed love story, a political intrigue involving two czars, and a traveling circus background. The picture glorifies the 1825 ‘Decembrists’ uprisal: officers in the imperial Russian army are fed up with the new czar’s autocracy. The main character is a traitor, the Scotsman Maddocks (Medoks). He has won a ring gambling. It carries the initials S.V.D. – the secret union of the ‘Big Deed’ (overthrowing the czar). Maddocks expects the ring to protect him. He is desparate to enter the circles of political power in St. Petersburg hoping a former lover (Sofia Magaril) will introduce him there. A wounded revolutionary officer is on the run, finding refuge in a circus. This setting enabled cinematographer Andrei Moskvin to film a sequence on a galloping horse ‘holding only the camera’. One of the most imaginative scenes takes place on the skating rink. The picture suddenly turns into an ice crystal created by using mirrors. The skater now waltzes his rounds all over the picture. S.V.D. introduces several pessimistic symbols: night clouds, a turtle suggesting how slowly the wounded revolutionary can move, etc. It is an extremely beautiful film, its narrative less important than its image qualities. An un-Russian revolution that failed but turned out a success on screen. It is clear that Kozintsev & Trauberg were ready for their next costume drama THE NEW BABYLON, now considered their great masterpiece. S.V.D. was restored by the German TV-station ZDF ca. 1980. For this version German composer Hamel wrote a new electronic music score, not very fitting apart from the skating rink waltz. Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Krylya (Крылья) AKA Wings (1966)

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Plot Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

The director of this film, Larisa Shepitko, was the wife of the distinguished director Elem Klimov and a very promising director herself. Based on a true story, Krylya tells of the efforts of a famous female fighter pilot from the World War II era to make a life for herself in the postwar era. At 42, the present pales before her memories of the past, and of her true love, now long dead. She is unable to come to terms with her past nor with the present, in which she is the director of a high school and the mother of an adoptive daughter. Her attempts to compensate for her distraction all lie in the direction of appearing authoritative, but the students and her daughter, with the unerring instincts of the young, distrust and despise her. In her distress, she is forced even more deeply into reliving her memories of the only time in which she was truly alive, seeking some kind of answer or resolution. Continue reading

Dinara Asanova – Ne bolit golova u dyatla AKA Woodpeckers Don’t Get Headaches (1975)

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Quote:
Two 14-year-olds experience the first pangs of romantic love in the midst of their last moments of childhood. Sensitively told, this film conveys a sense of life as it is lived among that age-group, and is unusual because it does not bear a heavy party stamp. This is the first feature film for director {$Dinara Asanova}, who was much-respected in the Soviet Union for making realistic films about young people. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Ivan Pyryev – Belye nochi AKA White Nights (1960)

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Story “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoevsky shot by Ivan Pyryev. Petersburg 1840s. A Dreamer, living in a big city for a few years and all the time he is alone. But one summer in St. Petersburg’s White Nights on the Neva, he meets Nastya. Five nights walking around the city, young people talk about themselves. With all the passion and tenderness of its nature the dreamer falls in love with Nastya. The girl, has feelings of despair of former lover, Dreamer promises to marry her. Unfortunately, the happiness is short-lived … Nastya is regaining his old love, and Dreamer is alone again.

1960 – Certificate IV IFF Film Festival in London-60
1960 – Best Film of 1960 (with the films “The Ballad of a Soldier” and “Revenge”) by a decision of the British Film Institute Continue reading