Vsevolod Pudovkin – Dezertir AKA The Deserter (1933)


In 1929, four years before making this film, Vsevolod Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein had collaborated on a Sound Manifesto that called for a radical use of asynchronous sound effects, which would be used in counterpoint to the screen image, rather than supporting it, as is normally the case. In DESERTER, Pudovkin put this theory into practice.

Starring Boris Livanov as German dockworker Karl Renn, the film focuses upon a politically unconscious figure who learns the error of his ways. Renn becomes involved in picketing and demonstrating on the dock but walks out on his comrades one day, doubtful about the value of this kind of political activity. Continue reading

Mikhail Kalatozov – Letyat zhuravli AKA The Crane’s are Flying (1957)


Veronica and Boris are walking in the streets of Moscow and they love each other. Veronica is laughing, cause they are happy together this morning. They see some cranes in the sky. When arriving to Veronica’s house they talk about a rendezvous at the bank of the river. And the 2nd World War begins in Moscow. Boris works in a factory and he hasn’t got time to speak with Veronica. He has to go to the war … Continue reading

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)


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)


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