Dovzhenko's "film poem" style brings to life the collective experience of life for the Ukranian proles, examining natural cycles through his epic montage. He explores life, death, violence, sex, and other issues as they relate to the collective farms. An idealistic vision of the possibilities of Communism made just before Stalinism set in and the Kulack class was liquidated, "Earth" was viewed negatively by many Soviets because of its exploration of death and other dark issues that come with revolution. Written by
Jeff Walker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Like 'The Birth of a Nation' or 'The Triumph of the Will', 'Earth' is a brilliant, groundbreaking film even if morally despicable. And in retrospect of what happened after its release, Stalin's liquidation of millions of Kulaks, its hard not to compare Dovzhenko's Marxism to Reifenstahl's fascism or Griffith's racism. Apologists for all of these filmmakers tell us to 'ignore the story' or 'ignore the propaganda'. Even the Kino DVD introduction instructs us to not take the film literally.
Perhaps instead of asking, 'Can propaganda be art?' the better question is , 'Can art transcend propaganda.' In 'Earth', I think Dovzhenko partially succeeds. The lyrical cycles of birth and death on the Ukrainian steppe are told with visual poetry. In fact, as the film goes on Dovzhenko obviously becomes uninterested in the circumstances of Vasily's murder and martyrdom for the collectivist cause. No doubt, the Soviet regime produced this film to (a) encourage collectivization against private ownership, and (b) Encourage a retro-pagan worship of agrarian life against orthodox Christianity. The collectivist vs. Kulak story in (a) is crude and unconvincing propaganda to a modern audience with historical perspective on Stalin's brutalities in the 1930's. However, it is with the fertile imagery and montage of natural cycles in (b) that Dovzhenko succeeds beautifully and transcends the story and makes it timeless.
22 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?