LANDMARKS OF EARLY SOVIET FILM

During the 1920s, Soviet documentary and fiction films were financed by the State, and their fledgling directors, some barely out of their teens, converted their lives from theater, engineering, painting and journalism to the practice and theory of a revolutionary cinema devoted to showing the achievements and aspirations of the new Socialist society. Their problem was to captivate an enormous, culturally diverse, multi-lingual, semi-literate population in ways that would be emotionally compelling, yet ideologically clear. The proven ability of movies to achieve this difficult goal inspired Lenin's famous dictum, " For us, cinema is the most important art…," and their stunning innovations recharged world cinema.

 
OLD AND NEW (1929) — Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov

OLD AND NEW (1929) — Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MR. WEST IN THE LAND OF THE BOLSHEVIKS (1924) — Lev Kuleshov

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MR. WEST IN THE LAND OF THE BOLSHEVIKS (1924) — Lev Kuleshov

Editing, or "montage," is the common organizational basis of these films and each of the filmmakers believed the arrangement of shots to be the foundation of film art. Yet these films are extremely diverse in approach, from Esfir Shub's poster-like arrangement of pre-1917 newsreels, to Dziga Vertov's intellectual complexity, to the striking imagery of Sergei M. Eisenstein and Mikhail Kalatozov.  Additionally, the influence of D. W. Griffith is apparent in Lev Kuleshov's satiric comedy and tension-filled drama.  Each of the eight seminal feature-length films in this remarkable set repays several viewings as a work of art; each is also a fascinating window on issues and attitudes in the world's first Socialist state.

 
THE FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY (1927) — Esfir Shub

THE FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY (1927) — Esfir Shub

STRIDE, SOVIET! (1926) — Dziga Vertov

STRIDE, SOVIET! (1926) — Dziga Vertov

All the films in this set are major works and all are new to NTSC DVD.  The films are Sergei M. Eisenstein's last silent and seldom-seen OLD AND NEW (1929), which attempts to bring visual poetry to the collectivization of agriculture; Dziga Vertov's STRIDE, SOVIET! (1926), which transformed a commissioned work of Soviet achievements in Moscow into a highly experimental film; Viktor Turin's TURKSIB (1930), a stirring chronicle of the building of the Turkestan-Siberian railway, and a major inspiration to the British and American documentary film movements of the 1930s; Esfir Shub's THE FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY (1927), culled from pre-Soviet Russian newsreels gathered from Europe and America; Boris Barnet's THE HOUSE ON TRUBNAYA SQUARE (1928), often described as one of the best Soviet silent comedies; Lev Kuleshov's THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MR. WEST IN THE LAND OF THE BOLSHEVIKS (1924), a stunt-filled comedy, in which a Harold Lloyd-like character comes from America to investigate the barbarous Soviet state only to discover the "real" Russia; also Kuleshov's BY THE LAW (1926), a tense drama set in Alaska based upon a short story by Jack London; and Mikhail Kalatozov's SALT FOR SVANETIA (1930), which explores the Caucasus region of Svanetia, a remote, mountainous area where the Ushkul tribe still lived in a stone-age culture.

 
TURKSIB  (1930) — Viktor Turin

TURKSIB  (1930) — Viktor Turin

SALT FOR SVANETIA (1930) — Mikhail Kalatozov

SALT FOR SVANETIA (1930) — Mikhail Kalatozov

These films are presented with original Russian intertitles with English subtitles (optional on 4 of the films), except TURKSIB and THE FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY which have full-screen English intertitles; all have musical scores, new for these editions, by Robert Israel, Eric Beheim, Alexander Rannie and Zoran Borisavljevic.  The publication also includes a 28-page full-color booklet presenting Montage Uprising: A Collection of Soviet Silents, an essay by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Ana Olenina, providing extensive contextualizing information about each of the films and filmmakers.  Grateful thanks are offered to the Harvard Film Archive for access to several of its original 35mm prints for this publication. LANDMARKS OF EARLY SOVIET FILM: A 4-Disc Collection of 8 Groundbreaking Films 1924-1930, was produced by Jeffrey Masino and David Shepard.

 
THE HOUSE ON TRUBNAYA SQUARE (1928) — Boris Barnet.

THE HOUSE ON TRUBNAYA SQUARE (1928) — Boris Barnet.

 
 
 
 

  Contents

Format: DVD-NTSC / Region 0
(No Regional Code)

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THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MR. WEST IN THE LAND OF THE BOLSHEVIKS  (NEOBYCHAINYE PRIKLYUCHENIYA MISTERA VESTA V STRANE BOLSHEVIKOV)
(USSR, 1924)

Director: Lev Kuleshov
Screenplay: Nikolay Aseev & Vsevolod Pudovkin
Cinematographer: Aleksandr Levitsky
Production Company: Goskino
Cast: Porfiri Podobed, Boris Barnet, Aleksandra Khokhlova, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Vladimir Fogel, Sergei Komarov, Leonid Obolensky, Vera Lopatina & Pyotr Galadzhev
Music: Robert Israel

• 74 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

OLD AND NEW (STAROYE I NOVOYE) 
(USSR, 1929) 

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein & Grigori Aleksandrov
Screenplay: Grigori Aleksandrov & Sergei M. Eisenstein
Cinematographer: Eduard Tisse
Art Director: Andrey Burov, Vasili Kovrigin & Vasili Rakhals
Production Company: Sovkino
Cast: Maria Lapkina, M. Ivanin, Konstantin Vasilyev, Vasili Buzenkov, Nejnikov, Chukamaryev, Ivan Yudin, E. Suhareva, G. Matvei, Efimkin, Mikhail Gomorov, Hurtin, M. Palej, Maksim Shtraukh & Tshukhmarev
Music: Robert Israel

• 120 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

THE HOUSE ON TRUBNAYA SQUARE (DOM NA TRUBNOY)
(USSR, 1928)

Director: Boris Barnet
Screenplay: Nikolay Erdman, Anatoli Marienhof, Bella Zorich, Vadim Shershenevich Viktor Shklovsky
Cinematographer: Yevgeni Alekseyev
Art Direction: Sergei Kozlovsky
Production Company: Mezhrabpom - Rus
Cast: Vera Maretskaya, Vladimir Fogel, Yelena Tyapkina, Vladimir Batalov, Sergei Komarov, Anel Sudakevich & Ada Vojtsik
Music: Robert Israel

• 84 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

BY THE LAW (PO ZAKONU)
(USSR, 1926) 

Director: Lev Kuleshov
Screenplay: Viktor Shklovsky & Lev Kuleshov, adapted from the story “The Unexpected” by Jack London
Cinematographer: Konstantin Kuznetsov
Art Director: Isaak Makhlis
Production Company: Goskino
Cast: Aleksandra Khokhlova, Sergei Komarov, Vladimir Fogel, Pyotr Galadzev & Porfiri Podobed
Music: Robert Israel

• 80 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

STRIDE, SOVIET! (SHAGAI, SOVET!)
(USSR, 1926)

Director-Supervisor: Dziga Vertov
Assistant Director: Elizaveta Svilova
Cinematographer: Ivan Beliakov
Production Company: Goskino (Kultkino)
Researcher: Ilya Kopalin
Music: Eric Beheim

• 69 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

THE FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY (PADENIE DINASTII ROMANOVYKH)
(USSR, 1927) 

Director: Esfir Shub
Screenplay: Esfir Shub
Cinematographer: E. Demin, A. Vinogradov, V. Evstigneev & E. Gaman
Production Company: Sovkino
Featuring: Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Vladimir Lenin, Emperor Franz Josef, Aleksandr Kerensky, Aleksandr Kolchak, Irakli Tsereteli, Pavel Milyukov, Nikolai Yudenich, Raymond Poincaré, VeroFigner & Iliodorthe Monk
Music: Alexander Rannie

• 87 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

TURKSIB (TURKSIB )
(USSR, 1929)

Director: Viktor Turin
Screenplay: Yakov Aron & Viktor Shklovsky
Cinematographer: Eugene Slavinsky & Boris Francisson
Production Company: Vostok-Kino / Alma-Ata
English Titles: John Grierson
Music: Zoran Borisavljevic

• 57 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

SALT FOR SVANETIA (SOL SVANETII / JIM SHVANTE)
(USSR, 1930) 

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Screenplay: Mikhail Kalatozov & Sergei Tretyakov
Cinematographer: Mikhail Kalatozov & Shalva Gegelashvili
Production Company: Goskinprom Gruzii
Music: Zoran Borisavljevic

• 53 minutes
• B&W

     _________________________________________

 Bonus Material

• 28 page color booklet

     _________________________________________
     _________________________________________

Total Running Time: 10:23:32 (4 Discs)

Language: Silent with Russian intertitles & optional English subtitles & intertitles

Musical Score: Robert Israel, Eric Beheim, Alexander Rannie & Zoran Borisavljevic

Booklet Text: Maxim Pozdorovkin & Ana Olenina

Published By: Flicker Alley

Institutional Price: $500 (plus shipping)

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