Podrugi (Girlfriends) is the story of the friendship between three girls, who start the film aged around 10 and who grow up together, eventually becoming nurses at the Russian front during the First World War. It was directed by Lev Arnshtam and featured a music score by Dmitri Shostakovich, their third collaboration following on from The Golden Mountains (1931) and Counterplan (1932) for which Arnshtam wrote the screenplay.
The narrative is straightforward and the storyline only mildly interesting but it is for the music that the film holds interest today, especially as it remains unrecorded apart from three preludes released on a rare Russian Melodiya LP in 1988 (C10 26307 004). The score is unusual in that much of the music is for string quartet although piano, trumpet and timpani are sometimes utilised. There are also passages for organ and later an electronic instrument, probably a Theremin, played in a drunken fashion and a couple of cues for full orchestra. Altogether there a significant amount of musical material contained within the film and a new recording would certainly be an interesting and valuable addition to the catalogue and much overdue.
For a more detailed discussion on this and other films with music by Shostakovich see Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film, written by John Riley and published by I. B. Tauris, London and New York in the series Kinofiles Film Companion, 2004.
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