Lev Kuleshov

  • Lev Kuleshov – Proekt inzhenera Prayta AKA The Project of Engineer Prite (1918)

    1911-1920ExperimentalLev KuleshovRussiaSilent

    A young and dynamic engineer, Mack Prite, whose talents have helped him rise above humble origins, struggles against an old entrenched capitalist whose oil company’s profits are threatened when Prite develops a plan to turn peat into usable energy.Read More »

  • Lev Kuleshov – Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov AKA The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924)

    1921-1930ComedyLev KuleshovSilentUSSR

    Mr. West was the first feature film that Kuleshov made with a team of actors who had attended his Experimental Cine-Laboratory. For four years, this group had been doing preparatory work as they planned to reform the art of cinema with an eye on montage. Yet, for a long time, their ideas remained dry theory, because the workshop lacked resources to make films. The focus of the Cine-Lab’s practice was on acting études. Details of scenes were story-boarded, photographed, or “framed” by special viewfinders in order to visualize how they might look in an edited film sequence. Thanks to these exercises, the notion of montage that Kuleshov developed was inextricably linked to his ideas on acting and shot composition. Read More »

  • Lev Kuleshov – Sorok serdets AKA Forty Hearts (1930)

    1931-1940AnimationDocumentaryLev KuleshovUSSR

    Sorok Serdets is a 49 minute politprosvet film centered on electrical power plants, the new beating hearts planned for Soviet society and economy.

    The infotainment flick is full of both creative metaphors and rather rude suggestions towards the bourgeois and capitalists, conveying historical materialism in a bombastic way that anyone can understand. The most prominent metaphor, a horse transformed by technology into a factory, connects peasant toil to industrialization. And it goes on to contextualize the early 20s grain famines, NEP, and Stalin’s new 5-year-plan phases, and it gets you on board for the role of electrification in the development of a workers’ state in the Soviet Union.Read More »

  • Nina Agadzhanova & Lev Kuleshov – Dva-Buldi-dva aka Two-Buldi-Two (1929)

    Drama1921-1930Lev KuleshovNina AgadzhanovaSilentUSSR

    “A father and son, both clowns, are to perform together for the first time, but the civil war separates them, and the elder Buldy, tempted for a moment to acquiesce to the White forces, casts his lot with the revolution. At the climax Buldy Jr. escapes the Whites thanks to flashy trampoline and trapeze acrobatics; the gaping enemy soldiers forget to shoot. Even Kuleshov’s more naturalistic films show flashes of kinetic, stylized acting. A partisan listens to a boy while draping himself over a door. A Bolshevik official answers the phone by reaching across his chest, twisting his body so the unused arm can hike itself up, right-angled, to the chair.”
    by David BordwellRead More »

  • Lev Kuleshov – Po zakonu AKA By the law (1926)

    1921-1930Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtDramaLev KuleshovSilentUSSR

    Barbara Wurm, Edition Filmmuseum wrote:
    Po zakonu (also know as Dura Lex) was the cheapest film produced in Russia (perhaps even still today); at the same time an absolute masterpiece, the greatness of which stems from its very minimalism. The minimum effort required for the story-development (Kuleshov constantly claimed, he happened upon Jack London’s story “The Unexpected” quite by chance), the minimum number of characters (just three for most of the film), a minimum of inter-titles and lines of dialogue, a minimum of locations; a clearing not far from Moscow (posing as “Alaska”) and a cabin–the perfect setting for a stripped-to-basics chamber play. Even if the juggling of shot composition and length (Kuleshov’s notorious “Americanism”) is not as artistically ambitious as in his previous work, it is still apparent how close-ups dominate inside, whilst outside, in the snowy landscapes and riverscapes, long shots reign, seemingly to the point of halting all movement.Read More »

  • Lev Kuleshov – Velikiy uteshitel aka The Great Consoler (1933)

    1931-1940DramaLev KuleshovUSSR

    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 »

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