A peasant comes to St. Petersburg to find work. He unwittingly helps in the arrest of an old village friend who is now a labor leader. The unemployed peasant is also arrested and sent to ... See full summary »
A peasant comes to St. Petersburg to find work. He unwittingly helps in the arrest of an old village friend who is now a labor leader. The unemployed peasant is also arrested and sent to fight in World War I. After three years, he returns ready for revolution. Written by
Erik Gregersen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Very Well-Crafted, & A Fine Companion to Eisenstein's "October"
This Pudovkin classic and Eisenstein's "October" were both commissioned to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1917 revolution. The two movies work very well as companions for one another, since Eisenstein concentrated on the major historical events of the revolution, while "The End of St. Petersburg" looks at the era through a story involving some everyday characters. Eisenstein's movie is deservedly well-known, and it is probably the better of the two, but Pudovkin's well-crafted film is a fully worthy companion, and it deserves to be better remembered.
The story is well-conceived and, at least given the perspective from which it was made, it works well. The main character is a young man from the country who heads to the great city of St. Petersburg to find work, and who instead learns a series of unexpected and not always pleasant lessons. As the young man, Ivan Chuvelyov does not have a lot of screen presence, but he does convey sincerity and honesty.
The other two major characters are a proletarian agitator played by Aleksandr Chistyakov, and his strong-willed wife, played by Vera Baranovskaya. Both of them have good presence, and make their characters stand out. The roles are not really all that complex, but they are used well in the story.
It's understood that it is often necessary to set aside political perspectives in order to appreciate Soviet-era Russian movies. There are a few somewhat heavy-handed details here, mostly in the portrayal of capitalists, and occasionally in the titles. But you could easily find techniques used in today's Hollywood movies that are much more labored or manipulative. Further, movies like "The End of St. Petersburg" go a long ways towards explaining how and why Russia turned to Leninism and communism with such determination.
Perhaps movies like this will now be of interest only to those with an enthusiasm for history, but for those who do take such an interest, it should not be a disappointment.
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