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 »
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 ... See full synopsis »
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 »
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
A surrealist tale of a man and a woman who are passionately in love with each other, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.
Caridad de Laberdesque
With King Ranjit visiting him, King Sohat sees an opportunity to kill his young cousin and take over his kingdom. One of Sohat's henchmen fells Ranjit with a poisoned arrow, making it look ... See full summary »
Dovzhenko's "film poem" style brings to life the collective experience of life for the Ukranian proles, examining natural cycles through his epic montage. He explores life, death, violence, sex, and other issues as they relate to the collective farms. An idealistic vision of the possibilities of Communism made just before Stalinism set in and the Kulack class was liquidated, "Earth" was viewed negatively by many Soviets because of its exploration of death and other dark issues that come with revolution.Written by
Jeff Walker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'Earth' purports to be about people and history, about the huge traumas violent lurches in history can cause, as one period gives way to the next, especially when the first has been engrained into the psyche of a people for centuries. But, as the title suggests, the film is really about the earth, nature, as it opens and closes with two stunning emanations of a pantheistic spirit, as the wind blows over a vast meadow, creating a violent wave-like moment in an immoveable space, or the final montage of spring, renewal, fruit, sun, rain, following on from the delirious dramatic symphony, as a number of plot-points converge to the point of frenzy.
Nature is as subject to violence and change as the human order - is this what Dovzhenko is saying? Or rather, does immemorial, unchanging nature stand indifferent to the petty problems of man? In that opening hymn, any human activity is stilled, at one with nature, as a young girl stares with less personality and force than a neighbouring sunflower. Throughout, at moments where the human crises are at their most compelling, Dovzhenko emphasises nature, the monumental, dumb animals who observe the scenes with godlike calm; the huge skyscapes that obscure the apparent drama of the tractor arrival. Human poses that emphasise power are quickly cut down to size, reduced to mere heads. Even the rhythmic montage of industrial activity the tractor brings in its wake suggests the accelerated cycle of the seasons. And I thought only the Archers or King Vidor know anything about filming nature.
This is not to say that human activity is rendered pointless. Set against, or, rather, co-existing with the powerful sense of nature is an ennobling of humanity. This is a story about peasants, of whom there were nameless millions in Russia, and yet Dovzhenko films their drama as a Wagnerian epic, a real Twilight of the Gods. The opening sequence, as an old man dies, has a mesmeric, ritual, monumental quality, increased by the reverential pacing, the awareness of death, the deliberate gestures, the iconic close-ups.
The music throughout, for my money worthy of Herrman and Morricone (i.e. the best) has an epic Wagnerian quality; here it is hushed, foreboding; later dissonant violence clashes with Romantic outpouring and dramatic intensity, all with a cyclic, fluid, unstable rush - that final symphony I mentioned, the hero's funeral, overpowers with its combination of music, montage, narrative and image.
Only the myopic and American could possibly see this masterpiece as propagandist. Dovzhenko utilises many of the 'intellectual' methods of Eisenstein, but continually disrupts them, collapsing political dialectics into a mystical, paganistic, spiritual ejaculation, with narrative always secondary to feeling - Vasili's death, a possessed dance at the crossroads; the old man who tries to communicate with the dead. The closing images of resurrection are all a staggering two fingers to materialism and socialist realism.
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