Aleksandr Sokurov – Odinokiy golos cheloveka aka The Lonely Voice Of Man (1987)

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Made in 1977, and only finally released in 1987, this is Sokurov’s first feature-length film. Extraordinarily beautiful, utilising an array of unusual stylistic devices, it seems as if Sokurov’s style was fully formed from the outset. A sublime meditation on love, loneliness, life and death, it still stands as one of his finest achievements. Continue reading

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Sergei M. Eisenstein – Stachka AKA Strike (1925)

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Russia, 1912. Sick of the conditions under which they have to toil for a meagre salary, the workers at a factory are on the brink of rebellion. The flashpoint comes when one of their number hangs himself after having been unjustly accused of stealing a tool by his foreman. The workers walk out on mass, refusing to return until their managers have agreed to their terms. The factory owners, fat industrialists with a taste for luxury, are infuriated by this illegal revolt and resolve to bring the workers to heel – by any means possible… Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Voskhozhdeniye AKA The Ascent (1977)

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A Soviet masterpiece

In the Belarus of 1942, two Soviet soldiers are captured by Nazi-friendly Belarusians. In captivity, the attitude of the two men toward their fate differs greatly. One of the soldiers manages to find an inner strength and spirituality, incomprehensible to the other man. Larisa Shepitko’s last film is one of the most beautiful war films in cinema history. Continue reading

Sergei M. Eisenstein – Aleksandr Nevskiy [+Extras] (1938)

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From Criterion Collection:

Eisenstein drew on history, Russian folk narratives, and the techniques of Walt Disney to create this broadly painted epic of Russian resilience. This story of Teutonic knights vanquished by Prince Alexander Nevsky’s tactical brilliance resonated deeply with a Soviet Union concerned with the rise of Nazi Germany. Widely imitated—most notably by Laurence Olivier’s Battle of Agincourt re-creation for Henry V —the Battle on the Ice scene remains one of the most famous audio-visual experiments in film history, perfectly blending action with the rousing score of Sergei Prokofiev. Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Ty i ya AKA You and Me (1971)

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Peter, a former medical scientist, suddenly quits his cushy job as a doctor at the Russian Embassy in Sweden and returns to Moscow. 3 years ago his team stood on the threshold of a vital break-through in neurosurgery, but the experimental work was cut short when Peter left for Stockholm. Peter tries to pick up the threads of his old life, fails and runs still further away, to a small town in Northern Russia where he takes a job as a district doctor. But the past would not relinquish its hold on him even there. Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Rodina Electrichestva aka The Homeland of Electricity (1967)

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Shepitko graduated from VGIK, where she had studied in the workshop of Alexander Dovzhenko (whom she always referred to as her mentor) and Mikhail Romm in 1963. Her diploma work was Znoi / Heat (1963), made for Kirgizfilm from “The Camel’s Eye”, a story by the Kirgiz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, about a clash of generations in which a middle-aged woman, director of a civil engineering school, yearns for her days as a pilot during World War II and struggles to understand her daughter’s generation. Shepitko’s next project was the short film Rodina elektrichestva / Homeland of Electricity (1967), from the story by Andrei Platonov about the coming of electricity to a Russian village after the Revolution. Frequently compared to the work of her master Dovzhenko, this film, like Andrei Smirnov’s Angel, was shot as part of a portmanteau film, Nachalo nevedomogo veka / The Beginning of an Unknown Century, made to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution. But the films were banned for twenty years, and Rodina elektrichestva surfaced only in 1987, long after Shepitko’s death. Continue reading

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