Lev Kulidzhanov – Prestuplenie i nakazanie AKA Crime and Punishment (1969)

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Plot Synopsis
This Russian adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment packs nearly every pivotal event from the mammoth novel into its 200 minute running time. Georgi Taratorkin stars as Raskolnikov, the impressionable student who believes himself to be above the law-and commits murder to prove his theory. Innokenti Smoktunovskiy, best known for his brilliant interpretation of the title character in the Russian Hamlet (1964), costars as police inspector Porfiry, who humbly but diligently wears down Raskolnikov’s alibi. Most cinemadaptations of Crime and Punishment end with the protagonist’s arrest; this one retains Dostoyevsky’s lengthy post-prison epilogue, in which Raskolnikov learns at long last how to be a human being.

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Giorgi Shengelaia – Pirosmani (1969)

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Description:

This film is about the great Georgian painter – primitivist Niko Pirosmanashvili (1862-1918). An unknown, self-taught painter roams the streets of a city, painting his pictures. The local people only know that his name is Nikola Pirosmani, that he is a kind and honest person, but nobody takes his painting seriously. To make his living and be able to buy paints, Nikola opens up a food shop. But very soon he goes bankrupt, for he is giving away butter and cheese to anyone who got no money. Already gravely ill, he paints his last picture, imbued with light, joy and love for life. Ruscico Continue reading

Yuliya Solntseva & Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Poema o more AKA The Poem of the Sea (1959)

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Summary:
This is a movie-poem with philosophic and lyric contemplations about the construction of Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, closure of the Dnieper, creation of Kakhovskoye Sea and also about human destinies involved in this great overturn of the region’s life. The action takes place in 1956-57. To the farm chairman’s call the people born in the village located near the Dniepr river that is to be flooded come to say good-buy to their birthplace. It is very hard for the senior generation to destroy their native houses and demolish the gardens as their memories of happy peaceful life and of the dreadful war are associated with them. The young people on the contrary smash down everything old with enthusiasm being sure that it brings nearer the bright future. Spring waters of the Dniepr are out and the Ukrainian village sinks to the bottom of the new Kakhovskoye Sea…
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Gleb Panfilov – Nachalo AKA Debut AKA The Beginning (1970)

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Synopsis:
A film-in-film story set in a provincial town in Russia. Pasha (Churikova) is an amateur actress who plays a witch at a local club, but her dream is to play Joan of Arc. In a strike of luck she is cast as Joan of Arc in a big screen film. Now she is torn between her luck and her love to Arkadi (Kuravlev) who is a married man. Continue reading

Aleksandr Rou – Vechera na khutore bliz Dikanki AKA The Night Before Christmas (1961)

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The whimsical combination of Christmas phantasmagoria and an eccentric fairy tale makes this film an unforgettable spectacle. The action takes place both in a village of Dikanka in the Ukraine and at the palace of a Russian Empress. Blacksmith Vacula has enraged the devil himself: in a church he painted the devil’s figure in such a way that even the hell’s inhabitants could not help laughing. Solokha, Vacula’s mother, is known to be a witch, not averse to flying on a besom. Vacula’s sweetheart, Oksana, demands for a Christmas present a pair of tcherevichki (shoes) that the Empress wears. Only then she will agree to marry Vacula. And the devil promises to help the blacksmith get the Empress’ shoes, on condition that Vacula sells him his soul. Meanwhile, Christmas is almost here. Based on Gogol’s story. Continue reading

Mikhail Kalatozov – Soy Cuba (1964) (HD)

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Four vignettes in Batista’s Cuba dramatize the need for revolution; long, mobile shots tell almost wordless stories. In Havana, Maria faces shame when a man who fancies her discovers how she earns her living. Pedro, an aging peasant, is summarily told that the land he farms has been sold to United Fruit. A university student faces down a crowd of swaggering U.S. sailors and then watches friends shot by police when they try to distribute a pro-Castro leaflet. The war arrives on the doorstep of peasants Mariano, Amelia, and their four children when Batista’s forces bomb the hills. Mariano wants peace, so he seeks out the guerrillas to join the fight. Continue reading