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The Last Bolshevik (1993)
"Le tombeau d'Alexandre" (original title)

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This documentary tells the story of film director Aleksandr Medvedkin, throughout his life a sincere believer in communism, whose films were repeatedly banned in the Soviet Union. Modern ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Léonor Graser ...
Dinosaur girl
Nikolai Izvolov ...
Guest
Kira Paramonova ...
Guest
Viktor Dyomin ...
Guest (as Viktor Diomen)
Yuli Raizman ...
Guest
Marina Kalasieva ...
Guest
Aleksandr Medvedkin ...
Himself (archive footage)
Lev Rochal ...
Guest
Vladimir Dmitriev ...
Guest (as Vladimir Dimitriev)
Antonina Pirojkova ...
Guest
Albert Schulte ...
Interviewee
Rhona Campbell ...
Guest
Marina Goldovskaya ...
Guest
Yakov Tolchan ...
Guest
Sofia Prituliak ...
Guest
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Storyline

This documentary tells the story of film director Aleksandr Medvedkin, throughout his life a sincere believer in communism, whose films were repeatedly banned in the Soviet Union. Modern Russian film students express their excitement at seeing his film HAPPINESS for the first time, and his contemporaries shed light on his life and work. Written by George S. Davis <mgeorges@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

25 March 1993 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Elegia a Alexandre  »

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Edited from Man with a Movie Camera (1929) See more »

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Quintette
Music by Alfred Shnitke
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User Reviews

 
Film as collective memory
14 May 2011 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

Chris Marker, again with a set of images to interrogate. About a Soviet director who believed in the collective dream, about the collective dream as shaped by cinema, and the peoples who grew despondent and fearful of it (though not of cinema).

The tools of this cinematic interrogation, which is fascinating in scope and layers, are what Marker and his friends were developing in the Left Bank some forty years ago. Even as the most blatant fabrication, the filmed image carries truths for him; the terrified look of an actor playing a muzhik in a propaganda film when faced with Soviet authority. Meaning something exists embedded in the frame itself, which we cannot wrestle away by removing context.

Marker carefully plants here some of the most erudite insights into the reality of cinema. We are told for example how the starving, raggedy workers in the collective farms turn en masse to enjoy propaganda films that portray them, the very same persons, as robust, content worker bees happily singing and laughing as they work the fields. How they walk away from this spectacle satisfied to have been entertained.

Old faces are interviewed for the sake of remembrance, to commemorate the enthusiasm of the revolution when trains converted as cinemas scoured the countryside to make films for the people, and the subsequent anxiety and horror. The odd ones who survived the purges, who turned from creators of events to mere spectactors or victims of them and who are merely a generation of relics now, with a head full of memories and perhaps a good story about Vertov to tell.

This is what Godard would be trying to do in the 90's, but the essay here is more precise and cutting, less about vague soliloquy and the camera and more about the people who perhaps held it at one time. I come out of this with the urge to see not any of Medvedkin's films, but more Marker.

-edit a few years later- Having now seen one of Medvedkin's films, Schastye, I have to say it's a masterpiece and you should seek it out.


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