Sunday, 3 November 2013


Zvenigora – Dovezhenko – The first in a trilogy (The Ukraine trilogy, alongside Arsenal and Earth) A 1928 silent Soviet film, in which a Grandfather relates a folkloric tale of buried treasure to his Grandson, subsequently weaving a sense of epic history, hallucination and superstition into an exuberantly digressive myth. It begins with an arresting shot of galloping horses, in beautiful slow motion. The film’s quality is shivering with its own age – enhancing the spiritual and dream-like nature of the tale. More than remembering the, somewhat ambitious and convoluted, structure, instead I was left with the rich feast of images: from wizened wrinkled soldiers; a spectral monk-like figure; flowery wreaths floating on the black mirror of a lake; a young boy playing naked in the water and then, after beaming at the camera, gleefully pissing; a young man conducting his own firing squad; iron girders, machinery and the crossed beams of industrialisation; to the vast panorama of majestic beards and roaring trains. The ending is darkly exhilarating and follows a particularly memorable episode in a theatre, in which the grandson promises the audience he will shoot himself onstage. This produces a feverish anticipation in the crowd, close to salivating at the thought of a dramatized - but real – on stage suicide. So much happens and by the end, so much has been seen. For such an early film this is an extraordinary feat of scale, ambition and imagination, one that additionally showcases an energetic development of filmic techniques (interesting cross-fades abound). 9/10

No comments:

Post a Comment