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Arsenal (1929)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 9 November 1929 (USA)
Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of the World War I, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh, returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Semyon Svashenko ...
Timosh, the Ukrainian
Amvrosi Buchma ...
Georgi Khorkov ...
A Red Army Soldier (as G. Khorkov)
Dmitri Erdman ...
A German Officer
Sergey Petrov ...
A German Soldier
M. Mikhajlovsky ...
A Nationalist
Aleksandr Evdakov ...
Nikolai Kuchinsky ...
O. Merlatti ...
Sadovsky (as F. Merlatti)
Nikolai Nademsky ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Luciano Albertini ...
Pyotr Masokha ...
Les Podorozhnij ...
T. Wagner
Boris Zagorsky ...
Dead Soldier


Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of the World War I, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh, returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides with a national celebration of Ukrainian freedom, but the festivities are not to last as a disenchanted. Written by Mr Bongo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

9 November 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arsenaal  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


(Copy with French subtitles at Brussels Musée du Cinéma)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In a scene early in the film, a soldier lies dead, covered with sand, but the sand can be seen to rise and fall with the actor's breathing. See more »


Referenced in La chinoise (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

Eye whipped into motion
6 September 2011 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

It boggles the mind to contemplate how far back was cinema set with the advent of sound; not sound per se, but the whole political environment that was concurrent at the time. So many fascinating experiments with film were afoot by the late 20's and would be put on hold for the next twenty, thirty years.

With DW Griffith ten years before, cinema was a transliteration. The narrative was straight-forward, time, even when broken apart, was a straight line that rushed towards climax that revealed our placement in destiny, the chain of causality was clearly defined - this begat that, and we perfectly understood why. Film was merely a tool of chronicle, with the gods - the mechanisms above - and shadows - the internal image outwardly recast - largely taken out.

But just ten years later, something like this was already so far ahead. So, the causality of events is left to our sphere of imagination, narrative is fragmented, purposely eliptic into modernist abstraction. Images require our folding in them to be complete with meaning, or channel their imports across different levels of experience; there is a scene of men rushing on horses to bury their comrade, they could be rushing into a number of things; and back at the weapons foundry where a strike is holding up, eloquent shots of machinery whirring in motion suggest afoot the social machinations at large. Life here is not passed down to us whole, with purpose or meaning; but is rather the process of coming into being.

This is far-reaching stuff in terms of what can be done with cinema. It posits that the image can directly depict private, inner states and larger, collective worlds as bound together by common soul - the oppressed peasants motionless like zombies, the military officer mechanically shooting at partisans. The shots of galloping horses are frenzied, but up above the clouded skies ebb with time. So, what started only a couple of years before in Soviet studios had reached this apex; image was engineered - or perhaps intuited in the case of Dovzhenko, who was the least of the theorists - to unify vision. The empire is inland as well as out, and stretches across the one space.

There are few words in all of this, our safe passage with logic is made perilous, adventuresome. Germanic cinema offered us the world of noir and I am grateful to them; but when it comes to what we often call 'pure cinema' as a quick resort, they could not match here - or France.

Oh, there is The Last Laugh, which is a marvellous study. But purely in terms of images Dovzhenko is worth two or three of those.

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