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Landmarks of Early Soviet Film

Landmarks of Early Soviet Film

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This groundbreaking collection features eight seminal films from the Soviet silent era - all are new to DVD: Sergei M. Eisenstein's last silent and seldom seen Old and New (1929); Dziga Vertov's Stride, Soviet (1926); Victor Turin's Turksib (1930); Esther Shub's The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927); Boris Barnet's The House on Trubnaya (1928); Lev Kuleshov's The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924) and By the Law (1926); and Mikhail Kalatozov's Salt for Svanetia (1930).

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 challenge 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.

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.


Old and New (1929) - Sergei M. Eisenstein's last silent and seldom-seen attempt to bring visual poetry to the collectivization of agriculture. (125 mins)


Stride, Soviet! (1926) - Dziga Vertov transforms a State commission intending to show what the Soviet had done for Moscow into a highly experimental film. (72 mins)


Turksib (1930) - Viktor Turin's stirring chronicle of the building of the Turkestan-Siberian railway (a major inspiration to the British and American documentary film movements of the 1930s). (57 mins)

Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927) - Esfir Shub culls her landmark documentary from pre-Soviet Russian newsreels gathered from Europe and America. (87 mins)

The House on Trubnaya (1928) - Directed by Boris Barnet, a student of Lev Kuleshov; often described as one of the best Soviet silent comedies. (88 mins)


The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924) - Lev Kuleshov's 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. (76 mins)


By the Law (1926) - Also by Kuleshov, a tense drama set in Alaska and based upon a short story by Jack London. (80 mins)

Salt for Svanetia (1930) - Mikhail Kalatozov's exploration of the Caucasus region of Svanetia, a remote, mountainous area where the Ushkul tribe still lives in a stone-age culture. (52 mins)

All the films have original Russian intertitles with English subtitles (which are removable on four 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. Special thank you to the Harvard Film Archive for access to several of its original 35mm prints.


  • A 20-Page Booklet - featuring a compelling and comprehensive film essay by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Ana Olenina, drawing on the material in these films to discus the rise and fall of early Soviet film and its importance in world cinema.
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Format: DVD
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Victor Turin, Esther Shub, Boris Barnet, Lev Kuleshov, Mikhail Kalatozov
Year: 1924-1930
Language: Silent (English Intertitles)
Length: 595 mins.
UPC: 6-17311-67639-0
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