EISENSTEIN READINGS (I)
Naum KLEIMAN. The Fergana Canal and the Tower of Tamerlane
This article examines the historical context and ideas underlying Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished film ‘The Great Fergana Canal’ (1939) in which significant themes in his work would have been given a distinctive interpretation: the creative potential of freedom and the tragic influence of despotism, not only on the fate of individuals and society, but also on nature itself.
Supplement. Sergei EISENSTEIN. The land has become unrecognisable
The article by Naum Kleiman (which includes the main part of Eisenstein’s first article about the Fergana Canal) is accompanied by the publication of the director’s second article in relation to the unfinished film (which has not been reprinted since 1939).
TOWARDS THE INTERPRETATION OF A FILM
Oleg ZASLAVSKIY. The ‘de‑identification’ of a personality.
On Michelangelo Antonioni’s film ‘The Passenger’
The author has performed an intertextual semantic analysis of the structure of Antonioni’s film ‘The Passenger’. The problem of (de)identification manifests itself in different aspects and levels of the film’s structure—in its numerical symbolism and in its intertextual connections etc. In particular, ‘de-identification’ can be observed in the deformation of universal symbolic systems (e.g., the Christian and mythopoetic systems). The loss of a man’s identity is portrayed in the film as an irreconcilable contradiction: the impossibility of proper self-identification is an inalienable characteristic of the hero and represents the very essence of his identity.
IN THE REALM OF CULTURE
Nikolay BOLDYREV. The secret of time of Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky’s dictum that ‘film is first and foremost the recording of time’ is well known. How to capture the passage of time on film was the conceptual problem that occupied Tarkovsky most of all. His deliberate slowing down of the rhythm in his films had profoundly ethical origins and created a particular intensity of concentration. In this article, the author discusses the closeness of Tarkovsky’s concept of time to the Upanishads, to a sense of nostalgia and to the semantics of the patina and time-worn objects in his films.
Alexander GONCHARENKO. Hero observers in the later films of Bela Tarr
The problem of the glance, observation and visual study would appear to be inherent in cinematography. The later films of Bela Tarr (‘Damnation’, ‘Satan’s Tango’, ‘Werckmeister Harmonies’, ‘The Man from London’ and ‘The Turin Horse’) all feature a particular type of character who observes the world. In this article, the author analyses the various hero-observers in Tarr’s films and their connection with the philosophy of existentialism.
Yuki MAGURO. Kamishibai: the forgotten kin of manga
Kamishibai (from ‘kami’ meaning paper and ‘shibai’ meaning drama - literally, paper drama) is an unusual form of manga which was popular in Japan in the 1930s-1950s. This visual experience consisted of a series of illustrations being shown accompanied by an oral commentary. An examination of Kamishibai reveals some interesting facts and explains why Japanese comics flourished after the Second World War.
Valeriy TURITSYN. The comedic element in the work of Ernst Lubitsch. ‘German period’
If the American films of Lubitsch have been awarded a place in practically all the major histories of world cinema, the director’s German comedies have clearly not been as fortunate. In this article, the author seeks to remedy this omission. It is concerned only with the master’s German comedies where elements of the grotesque, the burlesque and even the buffonade dominate. The scope for hinting and subtext is greatly limited, requiring the use of direct techniques to provoke laughter as in opera buffa or, to a significant extent, in operetta, the music hall and the circus.
Kseniya KOSENKOVA. The chronicler of the state: Charles Urban, ‘Kinemacolor’ and early British cinema
This article is concerned with the history of the ‘Kinemacolor’ method of colour film-making in Great Britain and its pioneer Charles Urban. Urban’s activities are discussed in the context of British society and the use of imperial propaganda in Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century.
Anke HENNIG. The visual nature of speech and the imagery of literature.
The poetics of Mikhail Bleiman in the context of film scriptwriting in the 1930s. Translation by Anna Frizen, edited by Anna Kukes
As soon as a film script is recognised as a fourth kind of literature, its use of narrative and imagery become subject to an analysis in a literary-historical context. The question then arises as to what constitutes a literary text without a narrative and what the appropriate scope should be for imagery in a film script? In this article, the author attempts to answer these and other questions which were essential to the development of cinema as a dramatic art in the 1930s, by referring to the scriptwriting work of Mikhail Bleiman.
Galiya YUSUPOVA. Box office phenomena of 1920s cinema and the myth of the ‘new viewer’
One of the many social objectives of the 1917 revolution was the creation of a new type of cinema—a universal means for the enlightenment and education of the masses, which was to be called upon to implement the ideological programme of the Soviet state. However, in order to comprehend this ‘new cinema art’ a ‘new viewer’ was required, who was already integrated into the new culture and ideology. This article exposes this Soviet myth using archive documents which examine the preferences of the ‘new viewer’, which always remain unaltered within the confines of mass art.
Andrey ANDREEV. Auteurism, art houseand art cinema. The sources of the ‘auteur cinema’ concept in foreign film history studies
In the author’s opinion, the main problem with the ‘auteur cinema’ concept in Russian film history studies is that the term is used to describe a current method for the interpretation of cinematic material, rather than to refer to a historical concept which is tied to a particular period in the history of cinema thought. This hinders our interaction with contemporary western film historians and has given rise to a certain conceptual and terminological confusion in Russian film history studies. The development of our historical understanding of the ‘auteur cinema’ concept has meant that it has acquired a terminological status in Russian film history studies. Hence, the sources of this concept need to be examined—i.e., the film history terms and concepts which were adopted from abroad by Soviet film history studies in the 1960s. This forms the purpose of this paper.
THE ART OF CRITICISM
Ilya TRAUBERG, Vladimir NEDOBROVO. Cinema Silhouettes.
Introduction and publication by Artyom Sopin
A series of portraits of film directors by distinguished Leningrad critics of the 1920s. Their precise and formalistic descriptions combine with the expressiveness of their impressions to produce an emotional document of the period created at the height of the ‘Golden Age’ of Soviet cinema.
Oliver HANLEY, Adelheid HEFTBERGER. The resurrection of Fedia:
A reconstruction of the premiere version of Fedor Otsep’s film ‘The Living Corpse’. Translation by Nina Tsyrkun
This article sets out the history of two reconstructions of Fedor Otsep’s film ‘The Living Corpse’ (1928)—from 1988 and 2011, together with the author’s thoughts on the principles of textology in cinema. By examining the prints held in various European archives, M.Kerber and later the authors of this article were able to recreate the version of the film which was screened at its premiere in Berlin in 1929.
Anke WILKENING. The relationship between the history of a film and its ‘legacy’ and Fritz Lang’s ‘Spione’. Translation by Arina Nest’eva, edited by Naum Kleiman
On the basis of a thorough textological analysis of prints of Fritz Lang’s film ‘Spione’ in various international archives, the author has been able to reach a number of valuable conclusions. Among them is that Fritz Lang’s choice of material and style for his first film after ‘Metropolis’ was informed not only by his theoretical ideas. A significant role was played by Lang’s pragmatism as a reaction to the changed artistic and economic circumstances he encountered at the UFA studios after ‘Metropolis’. His montage technique meant that the film’s episodes and frames could be viewed as moving parts which each distributor could assemble at his discretion to create the most suitable version of the film.
SCHOOL OF VISION
Aleksey GUSEV. The arrival of film historians
The master of the 2013 film history course at the St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and Television presents the work of his diploma students and shares with the reader the methods developed in the course of his interaction with his first intake of students and which, evidently, have produced fine results.
Irina MARGOLINA. Colour film in western European cinematography of the 1960s. Spatial relationships
As with an Egyptian mummy, there is no temporal equality in colour cinema between the object and the action. If a black and white image may be equated to archival footage (in the sense that it represents a temporary definition of an event and an object fixed at a particular point in time) and portrays ‘death at work’, colour opens up the grave. Colour is impossible both in the past and in the present. The use of colour is not simply an act of violence, but it is an act of vandal-ism. Colour deprives a form of eternity. These are the conclusions reached by the author in this article, which is based on a diploma work.
Evgeniy KLIMOV. The category of time in Spanish cinema of the late Franco period
This article, which is based on a diploma work, examines one of the main tendencies in the films of the Spanish directors of the late Franco period. The stylistic traits which are described enable the author to speak of a common idea of the organization of cinematic texts whilst under the conditions of official censorship.
Alisa NASRTDINOVA. Montage in cinematography of Max Ophuls
This article, which is based on a diploma work, contains a number of subtle and precise observations on the history of establishing shots, medium shots and close-up shots as they are relevant to the poetics and aesthetics of Ophuls’ montage.
EISENSTEIN READINGS (II)
Vladimir NEST’EV. The history of an essay
This article sets out the history of Sergei Eisenstein’s article ‘PRKFV’, which is about his friend the composer Sergei Prokof’ev. ‘PRKFV’ was first published in the United States in English as a preface to a monograph about Prokof’ev by the author’s father, I.V.Nest’ev. Eisenstein then rewrote this preface as an article which became well known. Here Vladimir Nest’ev publishes the original Russian text of the initial version of ‘PRKFV’.
Roman SOKOLOV, Anna SUKHORUKOVA. New information about Sergei Eisenstein’s relatives
This article examines a set of archive documents relating to Sergei Eisenstein’s father, uncles and grandfather, which has significantly enhanced our knowledge of the great director’s family background.
Eisenstein through the eyes of a palmist. Naum Kleiman
Short summary of a reading of the hands Mr. Sergei Eisenstein on 7 October 1930 by ‘Cheiro’. The publication of Cheiro’s predictions (in English with a Russian translation by Vera Rumiant-seva) with the introduction which sets out the history of Sergei Eisenstein’s visit to the famous palmist in Hollywood.
THE CINEMA MUSEUM
Yakov BUTOVSKIY. Alexander Dmitrievitch Dalmatov
This article contains materials relating to the biography of Alexander Dmitrievich Dalmatov, a photographer and cameraman who was engaged in horseback and aerial filming in the 1900-1910s. With a filmography.
Anna KOVALOVA, Vladimir NIKITIN. Viktor Karlovich Bulla—cameraman
The results of the archival searches which form the basis for this article cast light on the biography of the St. Petersburg photographer Viktor Bulla, including his camera work in early Russian cinema.
Artyom SOPIN. On Nikolay Shpikovskiy’s ‘The Duel’
A note on Nikolay Spikovskiy’s short comedy ‘The Duel’ (1934) contains observations about the specific nature of its dramatic and directorial aspects.
Anatoliy SHAKHOV. Egyptian cinema on the eve of the arrival of sound
This article is a continuation of a history of the cinema of Egypt (see also Nos. 94, 95 and 96 for a discussion of the earlier periods). It is the end of the 1920s and by the release in 1932 of the country’s first full-length sound feature film, Mohamed Karim’s ‘The Nobles’ Sons’, a total of 15full-length feature films have been filmed in Egypt.
Ada BERNATONITE. The specific nature of Bhutan cinema: A cultural dialogue
In Bhutan the cinema is only a decade old. During this period 3 films have been made by 2 directors. Both Khyentse Norbu (‘The Cup’, 1999, and ‘Travellers and Magicians’, 2003) and Neten Chokling (‘The Life of Milarepa—Part I’, 2006) are lamas. Their work is indivisible from the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Through Bhutan cinema, the viewer is immersed in an absolutely unique atmosphere of wisdom and simplicity. Whilst retaining its particular national character, this cinema is of interest to persons of other cultures as well.
Elena ALEKSEEVA. Soviet cinema in Kazan
This article is a continuation of a history of the cinema in the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic from 1918 until the end of the 1950s (see also Nos. 82 and 83). Based on materials from local press reports and the Kazan archive, the author follows the arrival and development of cinema in the republic, and discusses the work of cinemas in Kazan and rural areas, the first films made by Kazan cinematographers, visiting groups of film-makers (among them such masters from the capital as Eduard Tisse and Mark Donskoy) and the establishment of the Kazan Documentary Studio.