Yuri Ilyenko – Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala AKA The Eve of Ivan Kupala (1968)

Wj3fWx Yuri Ilyenko   Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala AKA The Eve of Ivan Kupala (1968)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yuri Ilyenko   Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala AKA The Eve of Ivan Kupala (1968)

Banned by the Soviet authorities, Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala (The Eve of Ivan Kupalo) is widely held to be one of the masterpieces of Ukrainian Poetic Cinema. Adapted from a short story of Gogol, which had its roots in Ukrainian folklore, the film depicts an almost Faustian pact, in which Piotr makes an unholy deal with Bassaruv in order that he may win the hand of Pidorka from her father. The director Yuri Ilyenko brings the same rich, vivid imagery that he lent to Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors where he worked as the cinematographer. The film often makes difficult first viewing for unaccustomed viewers due to its hallucinatory nature, but its lucid tapestry renders it a mandatory experience. Continue reading

Andrei Tarkovsky – Andrey Rublyov (1966)

ip80 Andrei Tarkovsky   Andrey Rublyov (1966)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Andrei Tarkovsky   Andrey Rublyov (1966)

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Widely recognized as a masterpiece, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 205-minute medieval epic, based on the life of the Russian monk and icon painter, was not seen as the director intended it until its re-release over twenty years after its completion. The film was not screened publicly in its own country (and then only in an abridged form) until 1972, three years after winning the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Calling the film frightening, obscure, and unhistorical, Soviet authorities edited the picture on several occasions, removing as much as an entire hour from the original.

Presented as a tableaux of seven sections in black and white, with a final montage of Rublev’s painted icons in color, the film takes an unflinching gaze at medieval Russia during the first quarter of the 15th century, a period of Mongol-Tartar invasion and growing Christian influence. Commissioned to paint the interior of the Vladimir cathedral, Andrei Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn) leaves the Andronnikov monastery with an entourage of monks and assistants, witnessing in his travels the degradations befalling his fellow Russians, including pillage, oppression from tyrants and Mongols, torture, rape, and plague. Faced with the brutalities of the world outside the religious enclave, Rublev’s faith is shaken, prompting him to question the uses or even possibility of art in a degraded world. After Mongols sack the city of Vladimir, burning the very cathedral that he has been commissioned to paint, Rublev takes a vow of silence and withdraws completely, removing himself to the hermetic confines of the monastery.
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Richard Viktorov – Cherez ternii k zvyozdam AKA Per Aspera Ad Astra (1981)

bdws Richard Viktorov   Cherez ternii k zvyozdam AKA Per Aspera Ad Astra (1981)

thgc Richard Viktorov   Cherez ternii k zvyozdam AKA Per Aspera Ad Astra (1981)

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To the Stars by Hard Ways was first released in 1985, and the print being screened at Fantasia is the newly restored version that was shorn of 20 minutes and re-edited by the director’s son Nikolai Viktorov in 2001. Once given the Mystery Science Theatre treatment in a truncated version known as Humanoid Woman, To the Stars by Hard Ways has gained a cult-classic status among Russian youths who were attuned to the film’s blend of pop social commentary and stunning visual alchemy. The latter is a result of a varied cinematic style which incorporates poetic touches of Tarkovskian influenced naturalism (“earthy, organic” set design), shifting colour patterns (between sepia, monochromatic blue and saturated nature imagery), and simple yet inventive in-camera special effects (slow motion, reverse, dissolves, mirror shots etc.). To the Stars by Hard Ways functions marvelously well on multiple levels — as a trippy science-fiction social critique of environmental neglect, as a campy treat of mod visuals and Star Trek-influenced human and alien characters, and as a retro Communist propaganda piece. Even with these at times radical shifts in tone, the film remains a genuinely moving existential space opera.
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Yakov Protazanov – Otets Sergiy AKA Father Sergius (1917)

3557c Yakov Protazanov   Otets Sergiy AKA Father Sergius (1917)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yakov Protazanov   Otets Sergiy AKA Father Sergius (1917)

One of the few pre-Revolution Russian feature films to survive, Father Sergius is an elaborate picturization of a Tolstoy novel. Ivan Mozzhukin plays a young, libertine officer who thinks nothing of committing casual sins while in the service of the Czar. He comes to regret his misdeeds as he grows older, his past debaucheries manifesting themselves in his wizened face and desiccated body. He wanders up and down the countryside, searching for redemption. Director Feodor Protazanov emphasized the high and low points of Mozhukin’s life by filming in the actual palaces and private clubs described by Tolstoy in his novel. The overall theme of corruption in high places automatically resulted in Father Sergius being banned by the Czarist censors, though the film found a more receptive audience once the government passed into the hands of the revolutionaries. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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Yakov Protazanov – Bespridannitsa AKA The bride without a dowry (1937)

Bespridanniza Yakov Protazanov   Bespridannitsa AKA The bride without a dowry (1937)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yakov Protazanov   Bespridannitsa AKA The bride without a dowry (1937)

From allmovie: Filmed in 1937 (in fact: 1936), the Russian film “Without Dowry” was released in America in 1946, one year after the death of its director, Yakov Protazanov. Produced on a far-less epic scale than most Protazanov films, this is a merciless satire of the Russian dowry system in particular and the Czarist regime in general. The heroine (Nina Alisova) is promised in marriage to a bureaucrat (Victor Balikhin), who is interested only in receiving the girl’s dowry. Maintaining a gently comic tone throughout most of the proceedings, the story dovetails almost imperceptibly into tragedy. The musical score is based upon Tchaikovsky’s 5th, with a few Russian folk songs woven in.
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Yakov Segel – Inoplanetyanka AKA Extraterrestrial Girl (1984)

xa8q4 Yakov Segel   Inoplanetyanka AKA Extraterrestrial Girl (1984)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Yakov Segel   Inoplanetyanka AKA Extraterrestrial Girl (1984)

Extraterrestrial Girl visited Earth.
Inventor Blinkov in love with her. His love is awakened in her new emotions and feelings.
She realized that Blinkov can not live in a different world.
And she leaves the Earth with sadness and loneliness.
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pixel Yakov Segel   Inoplanetyanka AKA Extraterrestrial Girl (1984)