'The Bear's Marriage' is a very strange film. It has the general ambiance of a folktale, with much of the bloodshed and cruelty that many actual folktales possessed before they got bowdlerised for the nursery. This silent film was made in the early days of the Soviet regime, yet it takes place in Czarist Russia and two of the main characters -- depicted very unsympathetically -- are members of the Russian peerage. The general tone seems to be that no perversion or insanity is beyond the excesses of the blue-bloods.
A Russian countess is frightened by a bear, shortly before she gives birth to the son who will inherit her husband's title. Years later, now a young man, the Count has a bizarre compulsion to dress in a bearskin and attack women ... specifically, young and pretty ones. We're given to understand that this homicidal fetish is due to prenatal influence, caused by the bear that scared his mother. The dowager countess, now elderly, has gone completely round the twist. We see her looking like Rochester's first wife in 'Jane Eyre': wild eyes, disarrayed hair, toothless.
The Count marries a young woman ... without telling her about his hobby, of course. He can't even get through the honeymoon before he puts on the bearskin and kills her.
The makers of this movie seem to be imitating 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari', or perhaps the Martian sequences in 'Aelita'. The costumes, make-up and sets are all highly stylised. Unfortunately, all of the acting is very stylised too. The extras in the crowd scenes seem to be obeying the commands of a drill instructor. The photography is very arty-tarty but often so dark that I could barely see what was going on. I can't 'bear' this movie, and I'll rate it just one point in 10.
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