Mother (1926, Vsevolod Pudovkin)

Dramatizes the 1905 Russian Revolution. Although I didn’t know that until I looked it up after the movie, because I know nothing of history or Russia. Apparently Battleship Potemkin is about a military uprising during the same time, and the 1905 events led to the 1917 revolution which took out the Tsars and formed the Soviet Union. So that’s why the ending, which seems tragic, is filmed as if it’s a great victory.

Full of great editing, a few cool overlapping images. Pudovkin worked under Lev Kuleshov, using his teacher’s montage theories to make grand works of propaganda, “far less ambiguously so than his rival Eisenstein.” I was in the mood for some Russian cinema, thought I’d watch a bunch of early features leading up to Emory’s presentation of I Am Cuba on 35mm, but I got busy, only watched this one and missed Cuba.

Brilliantly tense movie, vaguely similar to the other film called Mother I’ve watched recently in that both mothers try to free their sons from jail, becoming more like their sons along the way. In this one, she is partly responsible for his arrest, revealing a cache of weapons he was hiding after his group’s unionist revolt takes a bad turn. Later, she has turned against the state and teamed with the unionists, marching on the prison to free their comrades. Everyone we liked is dead in the end, but the individual is unimportant anyhow; the movement lives on.

J. Jones:
“The montage effects are different from those of Eisenstein, who believed editing was a way of achieving dissonance, making a jagged cinema of conflict. Pudovkin is more lyrical. His cross-cuts, while dramatic, do not break up but enhance the narrative.”

Also checked out:
Twilight of a Woman’s Soul (1913, Yevgeni Bauer)

Unfortunately, I found it a dullsville tableau drama, despite minor excitement over a mild camera move or two, a flashback and the presence of such a taboo subject as rape in a silent film. Seems like a good study film for an early-cinema class, but it’s not thrilling my current urge to watch quality Russian cinema. The film’s writer played the rapist, ha.

Buy from Amazon:
Mad Love: The Films of Evgeni Bauer (DVD)

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