IMDb > Umirayushchii lebed (1917)

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Release Date:
17 January 1917 (Russia) See more »
A grief-stricken ballerina becomes the obsession of an increasingly unhinged artist. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
(8 articles)
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User Reviews:
Keralli enchants, a dappled, subtle film See more (9 total) »


  (in credits order)
Vera Karalli ... Gizella - mute dancer
Aleksandr Kheruvimov ... Gizella's Father
Vitold Polonsky ... Viktor Krasovsky
Andrej Gromov ... Valeriy Glinskiy - the artist
Ivane Perestiani ... Glinskiy's friend

Directed by
Yevgeni Bauer 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Zoya Barantsevich 

Produced by
Aleksandr Khanzhonkov .... producer
Cinematography by
Boris Zavelev 
Music Department
Philip Sheppard .... musician: cello (2002)
Jody Talbot .... musician: piano (2002)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
49 min
Sound Mix:


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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Keralli enchants, a dappled, subtle film, 31 May 2008
Author: oOgiandujaOo from United Kingdom

The Dying Swan is surpassingly beautiful, the kind of movie you can sink into. Bauer seemed to be someone who loved the medium of film, there's beautiful framing and deep focus photography from the very first scene where a father and daughter go fishing whilst in the deep background we see a horse lolling at the waterside. It's a film filled with sunlight (seems strange that the black and white medium could be used so effectively to portray natural light). You get the idea that filmmakers used to be more subtle, Bauer crafts beauty from the shadow of a palm frond on a sunny porch, and uses moving camera shots sparingly and for maximum effect.

The film also has elements of humour, Bauer clearly enjoying making a mockery out of a fatalistic death-obsessed Count who sees his own amateurish daubs as masterpieces. Russia was supposedly in the grip of morbidity in this period.

The story is about a young woman (Gizelle) who is mute and lives with her father. She falls in love with a young man, stintingly, and is upset when she discovers a dalliance of his. The great passion of her life is dancing so she resolves to leave home and become a ballerina. She is sad and dances a solo ballet piece which is meant to imitate the death of a swan, and is in fact, very beautiful. The actress Vera Karalli was actually a great ballet dancer and danced with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Often the dancing in old films is a bit less than spectacular (I'm thinking of Les Vampires, and Der Heilige Berg), that is not the case here.

I've mentioned the painter Alma Tadema in reviews before, and I think Bauer does some shots which are similar to his type of preoccupations, shots of architecture, generally balconies with glimpses of landscape or seascape in the distance. Bauer is not quite as exaggerated, which is good seeing as the story is of folks more introverted that the Romans. I think early filmmakers particularly Griffiths were highly influenced by Victorian painters, unfortunately film's love affair with painting and image seems to have wained since then.

What I like about Mr Bauer as well are his dream sequences, which seem to resonnate at a primordial level (one might even call them Lynchian - especially as the one in this film is premonitive). There is a terrific one in Bauer's After Death (1915). The dead Zoya Kadmina (Vera Karalli again) appears to the student Bagrov in a dream, a wonderful rolling landscape of wheat-sheaves rolling away into the distance, her face incandescent. In Dying Swan Gizelle dreams that the Count who is painting her has already killed a predecessor of his obsession, she warns Gizelle that this is what is waiting for her and takes her down to a dungeon where hands close in on her, grasping.

Recommended to all.

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