USSR

Gennadiy Vasilev – Finist – Yasnyy sokol AKA Finest, the Brave Falcon (1975)

This fairy tale film is dedicated to the memory of the great film director Alexander Row, the founder of the genre. Once upon a time there lived a brave and kind hero named Finist the Bright Falcon. He was famous for his strength, courage and a heart of gold. But one day the Russian land was attacked by an evil enemy, Kartaus, who turned our hero into a forest monster. This spell was cast on a condition that Finist might become a man again, should a beautiful girl, Alyonushka, fall in love with him while he was a beast. Read More »

Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg – S.V.D. – Soyuz velikogo dela AKA Union of the Great Cause (1927)

(imdb)
A failed Russian Revolution succeeded magnificently on screen., 3 June 1999
Author: Theodore J. van Houten from Haamstede, 4328 ZG 1 Netherlands

S.V.D. was released in August 1927. A beautiful costume drama, it is on the other hand a somewhat expressionistic, poetical fantasy. Its photography and images are more important than its desired political contents. The script, written by the inspiring historian Yuri Tinyanov (director Leonid Trauberg [1901-1990]could speak about Tinyanov for hours) supplied a failed love story, a political intrigue involving two czars, and a traveling circus background. The picture glorifies the 1825 ‘Decembrists’ uprisal: officers in the imperial Russian army are fed up with the new czar’s autocracy. Read More »

Yakov Bliokh – Shanhkayskiy dokument AKA The Shanghai Document (1928)

The Shanghai Document is an early documentary film. This silent film was directed by Yakov Bliokh (1895-1957) and was released in the USSR in 1928. The film portrays Shanghai, China in the early 1920s. It shows the contrasts between the world of Western expatriates (including Britons, Americans, New Zealanders, Australians, and Danes) who live in the luxurious Shanghai International Settlement, and that of the Shanghainese inhabitants, who spend their days laboring. The events which inspired the film revolve around the Chinese nationalist revolution (1925-27), including the May Thirtieth Movement, and the First United Front of the Chinese Communist Party, and the Nationalists (the Kuomintang), and its collapse in February 1927 when Chiang Kai-shek ordered a purge of the Communists in Shanghai and in other cities held by the revolutionaries. Read More »

Grigoriy Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg – Shinel AKA The Overcoat (1926)

The Overcoat is a 1926 Soviet film directed by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, based on Nikolai Gogol stories Nevsky Prospekt and The Overcoat.

A young clerk, disappointed in love in early life passes his life in paper work. He centres his interests in a new overcoat but is robbed and assaulted on the way home. He gets sick and dies. Read More »

Oles Yanchuk – Holod-33 AKA Famine-33 (1991)

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The film depicts the 1932-33 Soviet-engineered famine in Ukraine, and is based on the novel The Yellow Prince by Vasyl Barka.

Emanuel Levy writes in his blog (edited for spoilers): “Through the eyes of Katrannyk, his wife Kateryna, and their three children, pic shows the devastating effects of the mass famine caused by the state’s seizure of crops. It forcefully chronicles the brutality of Stalin’s army, their raids on fields and physical torture of farmers. Death is everywhere: the ground is covered with bodies; desolate farmers hang themselves on trees. Read More »

Tatyana Lioznova – Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny AKA Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973)

A 1973 Soviet twelve-part television series, directed by Tatyana Lioznova and based on the novel of the same title by Yulian Semyonov. The series portrays the exploits of Maxim Isaev, a Soviet spy operating in Nazi Germany under the name Max Otto von Stierlitz, depicted by Vyacheslav Tikhonov. Stierlitz is tasked with disrupting the negotiations between Karl Wolff and Allen Dulles taking place in Switzerland, aimed at forging a separate peace between Germany and the Western Allies. The series is considered the most successful Soviet espionage thriller ever made, and is one of the most popular television series in Russian history. Read More »

Samson Samsonov – Ognennye versty aka Miles of Fire (1958)

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“MILES OF FIRE,” which opened Saturday at the Cameo, is decidedly not one of the better Soviet-made imports. It should have been, considering all the zing, the picturesqueness and, especially lately, the human cameos the alert Russians have been applying to their war dramas.

This Mosfilm Production, in particular, should at least have streaked like the wind in describing how a few carriage-borne Bolshevik civilians and soldiers race to a friendly town through the enemy-held countryside. But, generally, it jogs. Read More »