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USSR

Aleksandr Dovzhenko – Michurin (1948)

The film is about the life and work of the prominent Russian biologist Ivan Michurin. Reports of gardener-Michurin’s extraordinary experiments with plants reach far beyond the borders of the Russian empire. Trying to persuade him to move to the United States, a group of Americans comes to the village where Michurin lives. They promise him all kinds of benefits. But Michurin, despite his lack of recognition by the government, is devoted to Russia. Overcoming obstacles created by the tsarist bureaucracy, the scientist continues with his experiments on natural selection and dreams of the time when all people will be able to take full advantage of his achievements. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 makes his dreams come true and Michurin’s orchard in Kozlov becomes a center of Soviet experimental biology. Read More »

Yakov Protazanov – Belyy oryol AKA The White Eagle (1928)

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Synopsis:
Lash of the Czar was one of several English-language titles for the Russian film Belyi Orel. The film was based on The Governor, a play by Leonid Andreyev. V.I. Kachalov plays the governor of a small Russian province who tries to treat the people under his authority with kindness and equanimity. But when a local factory goes on strike, the governor buckles under to pressure from the Czar and orders the wholesale slaughter of the strikers. He pays for this betrayal of his trust with his life — at the hands of a courageous Bolshevik spy. Anna Sten, who in 1934 was brought to the U.S. as Sam Goldwyn’s “answer” to Greta Garbo, appears as the governor’s wife. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Yakov Protazanov – Chiny i lyudi AKA Ranks and People (1929)

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Quote:
From his early silent works, the great Russian film director, Herr Yakov Protazanov, made literary adaptations from equally great Russian writers, as is the case with “Chiny I Lyudi” ( Ranks And People ) (1929) in which three short stories by Chekhov, “Anna On The Neck”, “Death Of A Petty Official” and “Chameleon” were assembled for the silent screen.
“Anna On The Neck” tells the story the young and beautiful Anna (Mariya Strelkova ) who has just married an old but rich civil servant. Anna thinks her marriage will rescue her father and her two brothers from a miserable life of poverty. Anna becomes disenchanted fast when her rich husband turns out to be an avaricious and severe man. Anna’s sad life changes when she attends a posh ball and every man there, including the mayor, is charmed by her. Anna’s husband hopes to get business advantages through this but Anna is thinking of revenge. Read More »

Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky – Papirosnitsa ot Mosselproma aka The cigarette girl of Mosselprom [+Extras] (1924)

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Review
Though many casual film fans are of the opinion that the Russian silent cinema began and ended with Montage and Propaganda, several charming romantic comedies and dramas emanated from the Soviet film industry of the 1920s. The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom tells the tale of a young man who falls in love with the title character (Yulia Solnsteva). She becomes a famous film star, and herself falls in love–not with the hero, but with her cameraman. No one ever gets what he or she truly wants in the story, though they continue to pursue their lost dreams to the bitter end. Revelling in The Unexpected throughout, Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom is capped by an adroit surprise ending. (Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)
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Yakov Bazelyan & Sergei Parajanov – Andriesh (1954)

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Андриеш

Quote:
The feature length version of Andriesh (Kyiv Film Studio 1955) is a straight forward example of the Soviet fairytale film genre. In the film, the young shepherd Andriesh is charged with guarding the village’s flock of sheep. There Andriesh meets Voinovan, a bogatyr (hero) who gives the young boy his magic wooden flute. Black Storm, a wicked sorcerer who despises the flute’s joyous music, descends upon the village in human form, hypnotizes and kidnaps Voinovan’s beloved Liana, sets the village aflame, and steals its flock. Andriesh undertakes a journey to confront Black Storm and meets various individuals who help him, while Voinovan amasses an army of Haiduks (mercenary soldiers) with sun tempered maces to battle the sorcerer. Read More »

Sergei Parajanov – Ukrainskaya rapsodiya aka Ukrainian Rhapsody (1961)


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Quote:
“Ukrainskaya Rapsodiya” (the USSR, 1961) of Sergueï Paradjanov is a film saga of oceanic proportion with many rivers flowing into it. The characters are the affluents which mix in and distinguish themselves within the furrows of the storyline. An ocean of images but of musics too. Cause the film evolves more by its musical quality, then by its narration.

Orksana, talented student at the Ukrainian Academy likes Antonin whom she met in her youth. Here the love is less tumultuous in retrospect to “Pervyy Paren” (USSR, 1958) of the same Paradjanov, even if a certain formal expression of it remain. In this third feature of the Armenian filmmaker; the Second World war, one of the rare History adaptations of Paradjanov, come to disturb the peaceful flow. “Ukrainskaya Rapsodiya” thus enter in a powerful melody, the railroads, industrial symbols of the river, cross in several plans, as if to illustrate the opulence of the livings. Read More »

Sergei Parajanov – Tsvetok na kamne AKA A Little Flower on a Stone (1962)

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Quote:
The overtly propagandistic, anti-religious plot of The Flower on the Stone (Tsvetok na kamne, Dovzhenko Film Studio 1960–1962) does not look like promising Parajanov material: when a new Komsomol mine and mining community is established in the Donbas region, a member of a Pentecostal cult sends his daughter Christina to recruit new believers. Arsen Zagorny, an upstanding Komsomol member and a talented violinist, falls in love with Christina and crosses paths with Zabroda, the leader of the local cell of the cult. Additional problems crop up in the form of Grigori Griva a local boy prone to hooliganism and drink and his buddy Chmykh, a dissolute accordion player. Grigori learns to mend his ways thanks to the guidance of Pavel Fedorovich Varchenko, the wise and patient director of the mine, and Liuda, the Komsomol organizer with whom he falls in love. The film’s title refers to fossilized plants visible on pieces of coal. Read More »