The son of a worthless alcoholic father and a hardworking mother leads
an illegal strike during the failed 1905 uprising. In an attempt to save
her son, the mother inadvertently gives him away to the police, but
gradually turns to communism after experiencing injustice and suffering.
Pudovkin’s first feature turns Maxim Gorky’s rambling novel into a
tightly constructed narrative. The film’s emotional and visual impact
has not diminished with time, nor has Baranovskaya’s
performance. – Holt’s Foreign Film Guide. Continue reading
In 1929, four years before making this film, Vsevolod Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein had collaborated on a Sound Manifesto that called for a radical use of asynchronous sound effects, which would be used in counterpoint to the screen image, rather than supporting it, as is normally the case. In DESERTER, Pudovkin put this theory into practice.
Starring Boris Livanov as German dockworker Karl Renn, the film focuses upon a politically unconscious figure who learns the error of his ways. Renn becomes involved in picketing and demonstrating on the dock but walks out on his comrades one day, doubtful about the value of this kind of political activity. Continue reading
Chess Fever is a comedy about a man who, though soon to be married, already has a mistress – chess. His bride-to-be, knowing nothing of the game but seeing that his heart resides on the sixty-four squares of the chessboard, freaks out and storms onto the snow-covered streets in hysteria. Continue reading
Filmed to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution, End of St. Petersburg was the second feature-length effort of director V. I. Pudovkin. Utilizing many of the montage techniques popularized by his contemporary Sergei Eisenstein, Pudovkin details the fall of St. Petersburg into the hands of the Bolsheviks during the revolution. Unlike Eisenstein, Pudovkin concentrates on individuals rather than groups (his protagonist is a politically awakened peasant played by Ivan Chuvelyov) humanizing what might otherwise have been a prosaic historical piece. The mob scenes, though obviously staged for ultimate dramatic impact, are so persuasive that they have frequently been excerpted for documentaries about the Russian Revolution, and accepted by some impressionable viewers as the real thing. Filmed just after his 1926 masterwork Mother, The End of St. Petersburg was followed by the equally brilliant Storm Over Asia.- allmovie.com