During the most liberal period of the Khrushchev regime, Grigori Chukrai, director of the classic Ballad of a Soldier, presided over an “experimental studio” dedicated to nurturing new talents. The studio was closed after it produced the three-part Beginning of an Unknown Era, conceived as a memorial for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. The film was shelved and to this day the negative is reported lost. However, a print of Andrei Smirnov’s episode Angel and Larissa Shepitko’s Homeland of Electricity survived – both films were premiered at the 1987 Moscow Film Festival. It is understandable that the authorities might have considered Angel and Homeland of Electricity inappropriate for trumped-up celebrations of the Revolution. Both show an exhausted, famished Russia, enduring fratricide and deprivation in the aftermath of the Revolution. Angel is taken from the first published story by Yury Olesha. A small masterpiece, Angel pays stylistic homage to early Wajda and Tarkovsky in dramatizing the fate of a small group of fleeing Reds caught behind White lines. Just a minor incident in an enormous conflict, but the sense of Russian tragedy conveyed in this short film is indelible. Shepitko’s film is taken from a story by Andrei Platonov, one of Russia’s greatest writers. Even more than Angel, Homeland of Electricity is a startling succession of black-and-white images – withered peasants on a parched land-recalling the most expressive cinematography of the silent days. A worthy tribute to Shepitko’s film school mentor, Alexander Dovzhenko.
— Tom Luddy, Pacific Film Archive,
1.64GB | 1h 11m | 768×576 | mkv