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 ...
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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 fight in World War I. After three years, he returns ready for revolution.Written by
Erik Gregersen <email@example.com>
Early on in The End of St. Petersburg, Pudovkin's reputation as a montage director is evidenced. A lake shore and rising sun is paired with a view of a windmill, linking together to form a more complete view of the morning. Montages show up later, most notably a scene in which an official stands up, the camera cuts to the chair falling and breaking, and then to an attendant's shocked face. These are instances wherein Pudovkin's linkage method is clear, as the images relate and build a fuller scene. However, there is a scene one might consider more in the vein of Eisenstein: footage of soldiers rushing out of trenches in WWI is interspersed with shots of businessmen viewed from above running up steps of buildings. They are surely different, and they juxtapose sharply. Perhaps Pudovkin aimed to show the differences of those two scenes, or maybe to show that they are similar as well. Shots of a chalkboard in between these two parallel worlds (it is unsure if it belongs in that of the businessmen, but one tends to assume it does) suggest that soldiers' deaths and workers' labor are but numbers. These scenes could come off as heavy handed, but they are nuanced and the film is an intricate piece of plot and tasteful treatment of history. The depiction of WWI doesn't hold anything back, with shots of bodies floating in trenches and men being gunned down in mass. The narrative of the villager is engrossing; it doesn't overshadow the history itself and yet the film would feel lacking without it; Ivan Chuvelev's piercing stare is taken full advantage of to provide a haunting and unsettling sensation. Pudovkin's The End of St. Petersburg is a cinematic epic, but not in the same vein as Battleship Potemkin; it is a lighter, more detail-oriented fare.
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