Don't be discouraged by this Soviet film's age or obscurity - it is one of the finest movies ever made, and it stands alongside Carl Theodore Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc," as the most modernist film of the 1920's. This is a spectacular visual achievement, and its visionary conception of cinema is moderinism that we've still failed to catch up with. Unlike most recognized masterpieces of Soviet silent cinema (e.g. "The Battleship Potempkin," "Earth," "The End of St. Petersburg," etc.), however, "Arsenal" is a surprisingly approachable film, and its strangeness and abstraction are consistently fascinating. Originally intended as a propaganda film, "Arsenal" is the second component of director Alexander Dovzhenko's "Ukraine Trilogy," and it details an episode in the Russian Civil War (~1918) in which the Kiev Arsenal workers aided the Bolshevik army against the ruling Central Rada. Dovzhenko's approach is somewhat similar to Sergei Eisentein, in that he relied heavily on montage, but his pace was less frenetic, and his Expressionism was more exaggerated. As detailed in the film's academic commentary, Dovzhenko was previously a political cartoonist, and you can see traces of this background in "Arsenal." The characters in this film are caricatures, sometimes grotesque and sometimes funny. Similarly, there is a strangeness and remoteness in "Arsenal," which makes the film's few intentionally lucid passages quite dreamlike. The DVD commentary is concise and informative, and a terrific primer for the first time viewing. If you have any interest in silent cinema, modernism, or film as art, "Arsenal" is a film you SHOULD NOT MISS. ---|--- Was this review helpful?