A peasant comes to St. Petersburg to find work. He unwittingly helps in the arrest of an old village friend who is now a labor leader. The unemployed peasant is also arrested and sent to ... See full summary »
100.000.000 peasants - illiterate, poor, hungry. There comes a day when one woman decides that she can live old life no longer. Using ways of new Soviet state and industrial progress she changes life and labor of her village.
Sergei M. Eisenstein
In documentary style, events in Petrograd are re-enacted from the end of the monarchy in February of 1917 to the end of the provisional government and the decrees of peace and of land in ... See full summary »
Sergei M. Eisenstein
Joe May's sensual drama of life in the Berlin underworld is in many ways the perfect summation of German filmmaking in the silent era: a dazzling visual style, a psychological approach to ... See full summary »
In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the... See full summary »
Flashback story of an escape from the lonely, high-security Dartmoor Prison. A jealous barber's assistant is enraged by the attentions that his manicurist girlfriend pays to a customer. He ... See full summary »
Hans Adalbert Schlettow,
Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of the World War I, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh, returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides with a national celebration of Ukrainian freedom, but the festivities are not to last as a disenchanted.Written by
It boggles the mind to contemplate how far back was cinema set with the advent of sound; not sound per se, but the whole political environment that was concurrent at the time. So many fascinating experiments with film were afoot by the late 20's and would be put on hold for the next twenty, thirty years.
With DW Griffith ten years before, cinema was a transliteration. The narrative was straight-forward, time, even when broken apart, was a straight line that rushed towards climax that revealed our placement in destiny, the chain of causality was clearly defined - this begat that, and we perfectly understood why. Film was merely a tool of chronicle, with the gods - the mechanisms above - and shadows - the internal image outwardly recast - largely taken out.
But just ten years later, something like this was already so far ahead. So, the causality of events is left to our sphere of imagination, narrative is fragmented, purposely eliptic into modernist abstraction. Images require our folding in them to be complete with meaning, or channel their imports across different levels of experience; there is a scene of men rushing on horses to bury their comrade, they could be rushing into a number of things; and back at the weapons foundry where a strike is holding up, eloquent shots of machinery whirring in motion suggest afoot the social machinations at large. Life here is not passed down to us whole, with purpose or meaning; but is rather the process of coming into being.
This is far-reaching stuff in terms of what can be done with cinema. It posits that the image can directly depict private, inner states and larger, collective worlds as bound together by common soul - the oppressed peasants motionless like zombies, the military officer mechanically shooting at partisans. The shots of galloping horses are frenzied, but up above the clouded skies ebb with time. So, what started only a couple of years before in Soviet studios had reached this apex; image was engineered - or perhaps intuited in the case of Dovzhenko, who was the least of the theorists - to unify vision. The empire is inland as well as out, and stretches across the one space.
There are few words in all of this, our safe passage with logic is made perilous, adventuresome. Germanic cinema offered us the world of noir and I am grateful to them; but when it comes to what we often call 'pure cinema' as a quick resort, they could not match here - or France.
Oh, there is The Last Laugh, which is a marvellous study. But purely in terms of images Dovzhenko is worth two or three of those.
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