Zvenigora stars Nikolai Nademsky (Earth), as the grandfather of Timoshka (Semyon Svashenko), whom he alerts to secret treasure buried in the mountains and the boy spends the rest of his ...
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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 ... See full summary »
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 »
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 »
Allan visits the sinister Usher family mansion, where his friend Roderick is painting a portrait of his sickly wife Madeline. The portrait seems to be draining the life out of Madeline, slowly leading to her death.
After the critical lambasting of his masterpiece Earth, Dovzhenko returned with a more popular iteration of its main motifs. Much like Earth, Ivan concerns itself with the natural rhythms ... See full summary »
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
Zvenigora stars Nikolai Nademsky (Earth), as the grandfather of Timoshka (Semyon Svashenko), whom he alerts to secret treasure buried in the mountains and the boy spends the rest of his life trying to find. The film wonderfully blends both lyricism and politics and uses its central construct to build a montage praising Ukrainian industrialisation, attacking the European bourgeoisie, celebrating the beauty of the Ukrainian steppe and re-telling ancient folklore. Zvenigora is a most remarkable avant-garde film, which has a unique style in its approach and disregards the more traditional storytelling devices.
"As the lights went on, we felt that we had just witnessed a memorable event in the development of the cinema" S.M. Eisenstein
In the 2012 Sight & Sound Directors Poll of the Greatest Films of All Time, Guy Maddin put Zvenigora on his top ten list along with such films as Malick's The Tree of Life, Buñuel's L'Age d'Or, and Vigo's Zero de Conduite. See more »
Astounding combination of Ukrainian folklore and future
Zvenigora is, in terms of narrative and content, one of the most remarkable avant-garde films of an exuberantly experimental period. The film uses the central construct of a legend regarding treasure buried in Mount Zvenigora to build a montage of scenes praising Ukrainian industrialisation, attacking the European bourgeoisie, celebrating the beauty of the Ukrainian steppe and re-telling ancient myths.
The narrative is built upon Modernist lines, disregarding the traditional, novelistic storytelling techniques and instead using abrupt shifts in time and using the constructive devices of avant-garde poets such as Blok, Bely and Mayakovsky to create a picture of modern Ukraine that pushes in several directions at once.
There are some incredibly striking tableaux that require the viewers to create a structure for themselves (such as the Bolshevik soldier directing his own execution) although the climax does draw the preceding events together, combining the dialectical threads of modern industry and the old man's myth together in two exhilarating scenes.
The cinematography is fascinating - elements of the style of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Protazanov and Kuleshov are recognisable, yet Zvenigora seems completely different to any of them. The juxtaposition of rapid montages, swift city tours and slow, poetic journeys around the countryside is powerful, and the mythical scenes, although winding, are beautifully realised with a dreamlike quality to them.
Zvenigora is not Dovzhenko's masterpiece, if only because his Earth (1930) is one of the greatest Russian films ever made. However, it is highly recommended, although if you are new to Russian film of the period it is probably not the best place to start.
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