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Classic Russian cinema: from Eisenstein to Tarkovsky


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I recently got to watch Tarkovsky's magnificent Andrei Rublev in all its 3hr+ glory, and have been stuck with the amazing achievements of the few Russian filmmakers I know much about.


It seems everyone remembers the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin; in many ways, the balloon-flying sequence and the bell construction chapter in Andrei Rublev seem to me to be just as memorable.


I also enjoyed Tarkovsky's Solaris very much, although I haven't seen it in many years and would love to revisit it someday.


Does anyone here have any favorite films from any of the Russian filmmakers whose work has been distributed here in the West?



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Russian cinema during the Stalinist regime must have been a creative nightmare for Eisenstein and many others who probably vanished in the night and were sent to a Siberian Gulag or worse. Can't imagine anything more horrible. Presenting the party line,either in your face or obliquely with subtle or not so subtle references to the regime itself was a terrific challenge, if only for personal survival.And yet to turn out pieces like BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN while churning out endless reels of drek about crop production and bogus biological experiments glorifying THE NEW SOVIET MAN, is in and of itself a miracle.Creativity can certainly come out of some very strange places.Best B.G.

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Eisenstein seems to have done a little better than most. He was allowed

to travel in Europe and even America for a period of time, but he was

still subject to the political order of the day when he returned to the

U.S.S.R. Stalin had no problem with Ivan Part One, but Part Two was a different matter and it was not released until five years after Stalin's death. Most of the footage of the uncompleted Part Three was destroyed. It must have been a harrowing way to make films.

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Holly, Tarkovsky's version or original film of Stanislau Lem's Solaris has got to be more interesting than the more recent one with George Clooney. I found the remake to be jaw-droppingly boring,beautifully filmed, mind you, but boring.Would like to see the original to at least make a reasoned comparison. Best,Bruce.

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Watched The Cranes Are Flying over the weekend - what a beautiful, well-told story!


I thought it had great performances and amazing camerawork - some of those tracking shots are absolutely dazzling. But they're not just for showing off - they are actually at the service of the story.


So many memorable scenes... Veronica coming back to her place after the air raid, just to find her home gone is one that really sticks in my mind, but there are several other memorable scenes, especially when the action shifts to the front.




Tatyana Samojlova really carries the picture, imho, and she's as beautiful as any Hollywood leading lady ever was. In fact, there were one or two angles when I thought she looked a little bit like Audrey Hepburn.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a quick reminder - Miss Mend premieres tonight on TCM, in the Sunday Silents time slot.


Here is the TCM article:




*Miss Mend*

Sunday, December 6, 2009 12:00 am ET

Produced in the Soviet Union in 1926, but inspired by American movie cliffhangers of the day, this three-part, 4 ? hour film was directed by Fedor Ozep and Boris Barnet (who is also featured in the cast).


Based on the 1923 pulp novel ?Mess Mend?, both the film and its source material share an interestingly ?Westernized? pedigree; though the novel claims to have been authored and published by an American scribe ?Jim Dollar,? the fictional persona is actually a nom-de-plume for a Russian woman, Marietta Shaginian, whose biography for Dollar explains that he was a laborer who fell by sheer chance into tremendous fortune and publishes his fiction at his own expense.


Regarded by the official Soviet press of the time as a prime example of shameless "Western-style" entertainment, Miss Mend was nevertheless hugely popular, becoming one of the most successful Soviet films of the decade. Though you?ll find no tractors, capitalist oppression, or revolution, the film does manage a few jokes at the American characters? ? expense.


Co-director Boris Barnet, actor, ex-boxer, and a graduate of the Kuleshov School, directed other notable silent films including The Girl With the Hatbox and The House on Trubnaya Square; his career extended to the mid-1960s with his most notable sound film being Outskirts (1933). Fedor Ozep, also a screenwriter, emigrated from the Soviet Union. In Germany, he directed a wonderful version of Tolstoy's The Living Corpse and The Murder of Dmitri Karamazov, making later films in France, and finishing his long career as a Hollywood director.


Mastered in high definition from superb 35mm elements, with a 'dream cast' of 1920s Soviet film stars, Miss Mend pits a cadre of proletarian sleuths against a villainous gang of selfish capitalists, each side boasting its own collection of zany sidekicks, everything from a streetwise urchin to a Typhoid dog. The film also features beautiful location photography, impressive stunt scenes, horse, car and boat chases, and stylized sets inspired by Fritz Lang's German thrillers.


MISS MEND is accompanied by a newly-recorded large-orchestra score by Robert Israel. Soviet culture specialists Ana Oleniva and Maxim Pozdorovkin wrote the new English intertitles as well as a booklet essay, "Miss Mend and Soviet Americanism" and a new 25-minute documentary, Miss Mend: A Whirlwind Vision of Imagined America. Creating the Music of Miss Mend is a behind-the-scenes look at Robert Israel's recording sessions in the Czech Republic. This edition was produced by David Shepard and Jeffery Masino, with digital restoration and editing carried out by Eric Lange of Lobster Films, Paris.


Director: Fyodor Otsep

Screenplay: Boris Barnet, Fyodor Otsep,V. Sakhnovsky

Cinematography: Yevgeni Alekseyev

Art Direction: Vladimir Yegorov

Cast: Boris Barnet (Barnet), Vladimir Fogel (Vogel), Natalya Glan (Vivian Mend), Igor Ilyinsky (Tom Hopkins), Sergei Komarov (Tchitche), Ivan Koval-Samborsky (Arthur Storn), Natalya Rozenel (Elizabeth Storn).


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> {quote:title=Scottman wrote:}{quote}

> At 204 minutes, isn't that 3 hrs 24 mins?

> Does that mean that this is not a complete film?

> In any case I'm setting my DVR to record it! :-)


I do hope they're showing the complete film! I didn't record it because my DVR is full of movies I haven't seen - I'll just try and catch it later on DVD.

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