Sergei M. Eisenstein – Drawings (1961)

Рисунки. Dessins. Drawings.
by Sergei M. Eisenstein

Hardcover: 228 pages
Publisher: Publishing House “Iskustvo” (Art) (May 30, 1961)
Language: Russian, English, French
Product Dimensions: 62 x 94.8

Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was a Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage. He is noted in particular for his silent films Strike (1925), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1928), as well as the historical epics Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944, 1958).

Eisenstein’s book presents his drawings and sketches for his films of different years as well as trilingual texts: essays by Y. Pimenov (“The Drawings of Eisenstein”), Olga Aisenstat (“Eisenstein the Graphic Artist”), Gennady Myasnikov (“Director’s View of the Film”) and Eisenstein himself (“How I Learned to Draw” and “A Few Words about My Drawings”). Continue reading

Yuliya Solntseva – Zacharovannaya Desna AKA The Enchanted Desna (1964)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum’s comments on first seeing the film:
May 26, 1972: A screening of Julia Solntseva’s THE ENCHANTED DESNA (1964) at the Cinémathèque. Here is another Russian masterpiece that, like ENTHUSIASM, rarely gets shown, is ignored in most film literature, and on first glance seems to outdistance nearly all the “official” Russian classics.First glances are often deceptive; but how can we verify them when the films remain so difficult to see, and are so seldom spoken about? Indeed, if it hadn’t been for Godard’s enthusiastic reference to DESNA in a 1965 interview, I might never have gone. But surely it is one of the most ravishing spectacles ever made, an ecstatic riot of color and sound that uses 70mm and stereophonic recording with all the freedom and imagination of an inspired home movie. Continue reading

Andrei Tarkovsky – Andrey Rublyov AKA Andrei Rublev (1969) DVD

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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. Continue reading

Aleksandr Medvedkin – Schastye aka Happiness [+Extras] (1932)

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Aleksandr Medvedkin’s Happiness, as rowdy as any Soviet silent movie, is a comic parable composed of equal parts of Tex Avery and Luis Buñuel. It satirizes the plight of a Soviet farmer who finds himself providing for the state, the church, and his peers at the expense of his personal satisfaction. A hapless young prole, Khmyr, is tasked by his wife with the goal of going out in the world and finding happiness, lest he end up dead and dissatisfied after a lifetime of toil, like his father. Through stylistic exaggeration and a systematic attack on pre- and post-Revolutionary Russia’s dearest institutions, the movie achieves a wide-ranging, and deeply wounding, attack on the limitations placed on personal freedom in Russian society Continue reading

Aleksandr Zarkhi – Dvadtsat shest dney iz zhizni Dostoevskogo AKA 26 Days in the Life of Dostoyevsky (1981)

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Twenty-Six Days in the Life of Dostoyevsky was entered on February 16th at the 1981 Berlin Film Festival to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dostoyevsky’s death on February 9th, 1881, and won a “Best Actor” award for Anatoly Solonitsyn as Dostoyevsky. Solonitsyn was a favorite actor in Andrei Tarkovsky’s films, and this was to be his penultimate role. This brief imaginary period in the famed Russian writer’s life encapsulates one of his darker moments in 1866. At that time he was still a relatively unknown writer whose first widely acclaimed work, Crime and Punishment, was just on the horizon. His life was at a very low ebb as he struggled with debts he could not pay, and as he fought depression over the loss of his wife to tuberculosis, and the death of his brother, who was very close to him. His first literary journal had to be scrapped because of political reasons, and the second venture needed funding. The police come to see him, sent by his publisher who is demanding recompense for debts overdue. Desperate to escape the pressure on all sides, Dostoyevsky decides to undertake the impossible and write the story of The Gambler in 26 days, thereby satisfying the debt to the publisher at least. Continue reading

Aleksandr Medvedkin – Noch Nad Kitaem AKA Night Over China (1971)

Description: Soviet documentary “defending the Chinese people from their enemies, the Maoists”. NB: The film clearly documents the activities of the Red Guards although it never mentions them by name. This has been reflected in the cataloguing. Also, ‘Peking’ has been used instead of ‘Beijing’, again to reflect the content of the film. Continue reading

Yuri Ilyenko – Bilyy ptakh z chornoyu vidznakoyu AKA The White Bird Marked with Black (1971)

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Quote:
Colourful ‘optimistic tragedy’ of a poor family in Ukraine, living in the Carpathian mountains near the Romanian border, during the Second World War. Five sons of the family make up the village band, but as the battles between the Nazi-supported Ukranian nationalists and the Soviets go on, their band loses one player after another.

Winner of the Grand prize at the 1971 Moscow Film Festival, White Bird with a Black Mark is set in western Ukraine, in an area that has passed through the control of several nations over the centuries. despairing at the poverty of is family, a boy decides the stork is the cause of all their problems, and sets out to kill it. But soon everyone’s situation will be challenged, as World War II breaks out and the region is carved into warring battle zones, with brother being forced to fight against brother. Yuri Illienko once again brings his dazzling poetic vision to this tale of loyalty to family, to nation, to state—and to oneself. The film is widely considered one of the most important works of the Ukrainian film heritage. Continue reading