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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 <email@example.com>
Does anybody knows of some film from the first decades of the soviet era which is not plain political propaganda?. Cinema was one of the best media for communicating the "greatness" and "goodness" of the socialist revolution and how evil everything that had happened in Russia before October 1917 was, and directors like Eisenstein and Pudovkin did a very good job at spreading the word.
Basically this film is a companion to Eisenstein's October, this one showing the main actors of the October revolution, while Pudovkin's focuses in the facts from the common people point of view. This might have resulted in an interesting study of the soul of the Russian people, on how peasants and citizens lived, what they believed in, what was their position with regard to the political events that were developing in their country. Unfortunately there is nothing of this anywhere in the film, propaganda takes over, and the film is a succession of topics such as how evil the stock market-bidding capitalists are, how desperate the living of the peasants and proletarians was, the betrayal of the coalition governments to the people on forming and alliance with the financial power... There is no individual character development (well, individuals as such mattered little for the soviets, we know), each personage represents something, it is not him/herself but just a part of the social class he/she belongs to, and thus performance from all the actors is plain and superficial as the lecture of a political manifesto in the supreme soviet.
Nothing particularly interesting either regarding cinematography: the trite scenes of masses in movement, poorly executed in general (a very long way from Griffith, for instance), close-ups which pretended to impress the audience I suppose (they made me giggle instead), and a poor montage, full of symbolisms (like the equestrian statue of some past Tzar) repeated again and again tiresomely.
One only scene was of some appeal to me, the very last one, when the wife of the worker's communist leader enters the Catherine's palace and is dazzled by its magnificence and beauty, a scene with a highly symbolic meaning: the old palaces of the nobility were now freely accessible for the common people, everybody was now "equal". We know now that it would be for a very short time however...
So, this was my last attempt with old soviet cinematography. Creativity was so curtailed that I know I can't expect anything new from what I have already seen. One star for the final scene, plus another one for its mastery in propaganda, plus the basic one = 3 stars.
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