This is one of the most poetic movies Eisenstein has directed and in spite of appearances one of the least "propagandistic" of his movies. The only fault of Staroye i novoye is its thin political philosophy; collectivization has been proved to be a bad move so anything advertising it passes as outdated. But in my opinion, if we look at the movie closely we can see that it is more than a pretentious masquerading of Stalinist policy. It argues against fragmentation of labor and in a very convincing manner. I think that Eisenstein himself must have been appalled at the outcome of the state's efforts to make something out of the Kolkhozes and the Sovkhozes because what I can see in this movie is the director's attempt to present as faithfully as possible a political creed in which he truly believes. That Stalin eventually failed and managed to create only a bankrupt system based on theft where collective farms became better ways for the state to rob its population of goods is not Eisenstein's "fault" and I think that much of his later career proves that alongside other early communists he was himself disillusioned by what had happened.
The story presented in the film is first and foremost a very convincing drama having as a central character Marfa Latkina, a strong-willed and hard-working peasant woman who manages to convince her peasant comrades that the only way they can escape the domination of the kulaks who helped keep the majority of peasants in ignorance and hunger is by bringing their efforts together, annulling the boundaries of private and inefficient property, saving money for future investment and trusting and relying on the new technological breakthroughs such as the tractor. Marfa Latkina is, I think, Eisenstein's first attempt at creating a powerful individual character that acts as a voice for the people and protects their interests. Eisenstein manages to make a point because he chose wisely a very compelling woman; we simply trust that that face represents the mass of the hungry and frustrated peasants.
The montage technique is present, some of the examples typical for Eisenstein are the moment when Marfa visits the rich and fat kulak and we see shots of her worked hands intercut with shots of the fat kulak's head filmed in extreme close-up so that it appears disgustingly fat. Eisenstein of course makes his point with a technique that he perfected. The modern audience may feel much challenged by one of the most astonishing and shocking uses of montage that I have found to-day in any movie. When the cooperative manages to save enough money to buy a bull for breeding , the actual act of mounting is presented through a montage that alternates the bull's point of view with shots of the cow thus making the viewer feel like the bull that's about to Ripped out of the movie this idea seems laughable but considering that Eisenstein at least alludes to a new religion in his movie the sacrality of the breeding act is not surprising at all. In some of the first scenes of the movie, we see a religious procession failing to bring about the rain. We later see Marfa's dream of a godly bull descending from heaven onto the numerous cows of the collective farm in a Zeus like manner. I think that Eisenstein wanted to reflect something as "the religion of the peasant" who believes more in the sun that brings the heat than in an abstract God, or who believes more in the stamina of a bull capable of breeding than in any other type of deity.
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