Soviet silent cinema

  • Konstantin Eggert & Vladimir Gardin – Medvezhya svadba AKA The Bear’s Wedding (1925)

    Grigorii Grebner and Anatolii Lunacharskii adapted Lunacharskii’s play (based on a story by Prosper Merimee) to the screen. Since it was yet another glaring example of the commercial “line” of the studio Mezhrabpom Rus’, “The Bear’s Wedding” was an odd effort indeed for the Commissar of Enlightenment to be associated with.Read More »

  • Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Zvenigora AKA Zvenyhora [1928 Cut] (1927)

    There is a mysterious place in the midst of the Ukrainian steppes, the Zvenyhora, or the Ringing Mountain. According to folk legends it harbors invaluable treasures of the Scythians. The entire chain of historic events that left their trace on the face of Ukraine – the Varangians, the nomad invaders, the struggle against the Polish gentry, the Haidamaka uprising, the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution – are connected by one image of a Ukrainian old man, ageless, ingenuous, enterprising, cunning and indestructible – Dovzhenko’s personification of Ukrainian identity itself. The old man’s entire life is devoted to hunting for the illusive hidden treasures, which, as the film unfolds increasingly appear as a metaphor of Ukraine’s national soul and its – yet unlocked – spiritual potential. In the process, the old man is torn between his grandson Pavlo, epitome of the Ukrainian nationalist cause, and Tymishko, forward-looking, proletariat-oriented Bolshevik. The old man, instigated by Pavlo attempts to derail the Bolshevik train of progress. He is captured by Tymish’s comrades-in-arms, forgiven and taken on board the train speeding away towards the bright new day.Read More »

  • Abram Room – Tretya meshchanskaya AKA Bed and Sofa [+Commentary] (1927)

    A married couple have a small apartment in Moscow. When an old friend of the husband’s arrives in the city, he is unable to find lodgings. Kolia, the husband, invites his friend to move in with them. While Kolia is away on business, sensual Liuda and attractive Volodia fall in love and have an affair. After his initial outrage, the husband calms down. Kolia winds up on the sofa, and the three settle into a menage-a-trois until the wife finds herself pregnant. The two men are trying to decide what to do, but Liuda is strong enough to make her own decisions. Considered a landmark film because of humor, naturalism, and its sympathetic portrayal of the woman.Read More »

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