USSR

Ivan Pyryev – Skazanie o zemle sibirskoy AKA The Tale of Siberian Land (1947)

From Mosfilm:
Andrey Balashov, a pianist, had to quit music after being wounded during the Great Patriotic War. Having failed to say goodbye to his friends and Natasha whom he loved he left for Siberia. He worked at the construction of an industrial complex and sang in a teahouse. An accidental meeting with his friends and Natasha changed his life. Andrey left for the Arctic region where being inspired by heroic labor of the builders he wrote a symphonic oratorio «Tale of Siberian Land» that won everybody’s recognition and made him popular in Moscow where Natasha was looking forward to see her true-love. Read More »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Samye Zemnye Zaboty aka Le Piú Terrene Occupazione (1974)

A documentary film about the agricultural development in the region of Gorky: the everyday life in a sovkhoz, the building of a reservoir and of a greenhouse. Read More »

Abram Room – Strogiy yunosha AKA A Severe Young Man AKA Le Jeune Sérieux (1935)

A contemplation of the New Soviet Man runs head-first into a romantic comedy with music in this film from the Soviet Union, which was highly controversial upon initial release. Dr. Stepanov (Yuri Yurev) is a well-known and gifted surgeon whose talent is matched only by his arrogance; he constantly bosses around his assistant, Fydor (Maksim Straukh), and his wife, Masha (Olga Zhizneva). Masha is beautiful and a great deal more charming than her husband, and she soon attracts the attentions of Grisha Fokin (Dmitri Dorliak), a young man who is quite infatuated with her. As Grisha pursues Masha, the characters debate the role of free love and free will within the Soviet social and political economy, as well as the juncture of the body and the mind. Read More »

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 »