USSR

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. Read More »

Yevgeni Chervyakov – Moy syn (1928)

Synopsis: A woman announces her husband that her newborn baby isn’t his. What follows is a simple and powerful sequence of close-ups of a man caught in his mixed emotions and a woman obsessed with the child’s well-being. Read More »

Georgi Kropachyov & Konstantin Yershov – Viy AKA Viy or Spirit of Evil (1967)

This Russian film adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s story was for a long time the only horror film made in the Soviet Union. Khoma (Leonid Kuravlev), a young novice, travels across the countryside and stays for a night in a barn that belongs to an ugly old woman. When she attacks him at night and takes him for a broom ride, the scared novice fatally wounds her, and before she dies, she turns into a beautiful young noblewoman (Natalya Varley). The latter leaves a will, according to which Khoma should pray for her for three nights in the chapel until her body is buried. At night, the witch rises from the coffin and tries to catch Khoma. She flies around but she can’t reach him or see him because he stays inside the circle that he has drawn around himself. During the third and last night, the witch makes the last attempt to scare him out of the circle, and she calls all sorts of ugly creatures to help her… Gogol wrote several stories based on Ukrainian folklore, many of them dealing with the Devil and the supernatural. ~ Yuri German, All Movie Guide Read More »

Lev Kuleshov – Velikiy uteshitel aka The Great Consoler (1933)

The Great Consoler is Lev Kuleshov’s most personal film reflecting both the facts of his life and his thoughts about the place of the artist in contemporary reality. It was the only film in the Soviet cinema of those years that raised the question of what role a creative person played in society.

The film takes place in America in 1899, and in its principal plot depicts Bill Porter, who is the great consoler of the title, in prison. His writing skills earn him privileges from the governor and he is spared the inhumane treatment meted out to other prisoners. Porter is very much aware of the brutality around him but, mindful of his better conditions, refuses to write about prison life. He prefers to console his less-well-treated friends, and indeed all his readers, with excessively romantic fantasies in which good invariably triumphs. Read More »

Sergei M. Eisenstein – La Destrucción de Oaxaca (1931)

Description: Footage of the aftermath of the January 14 1931 Earthquake in Oaxaca, Mexico. Read More »

Mikhail Shvejtser – Zolotoy telyonok AKA The Golden Calf (1968)

This Russian comedy is the sequel to The Twelve Chairs, which told of a madcap search by a con-man and a nobleman in post-communist Russia for a chair containing a king’s ransom in hidden diamonds. Presumably dead at the end of the first film, charming con-man Ostap Bender is alive and kicking and looking for another way to get rich. He discovers an underground Soviet millionaire, Alexander Koreiko, and begins blackmailing him in an attempt to accomplish his lifelong goal of having one million rubles. With that amount of money, he believes he could fulfill his dream of moving to Rio de Janeiro. In the pursuit of his many schemes, he uses an ill-assorted gang of fellow miscreants: Shura the simple-minded young ex-convict, Panikovsky an older con man, and the unusually unlucky driver Adam Kozlevich. He has many wild adventures in his quest. The witty and satirical novel on which this movie is based, written in 1930, was prohibited until the 1950s, when it became a cult novel in the USSR. Read More »

Mark Donskoy – Detstvo Gorkogo AKA Childhood of Maxim Gorky (1938)

Quote:
This haunting, unforgettable film, based on Maxim Gorky’s 1913 autobiography, follows a 12-year-old’s journey in life against the tumultuous backdrop of 19th-century Russia. With vivid imagery, it recounts the touching relationships that develop when Gorky goes to live at his grandparents’ home. Most notable are the powerful portraits of lower-class people whose qualities of integrity and dignity shine through their hopeless circumstances. (Rottentomatoes) Read More »