Russian Films & Filmmakers

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Agony/Agoniya (Klimov)

#1 Post by Anonymous » Sun May 14, 2006 9:52 am

I recently saw 'Come and See' and thought it was outstanding. I was also impressed by Klimov's honesty about this earlier effort in an interview on the Second Disc. Basically, he said that he had really great people around him but fell short of the artistic standards he set himself.

In spite of this, some online reviewers seem to rate 'Agoniya' highly, while others try to warn people off.

So what's the story? I'm tempted to buy the Ruscico version. Would I be making an expensive mistake?

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a7m4
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#2 Post by a7m4 » Sun May 14, 2006 1:43 pm

I saw this film during an Elem Klimov/Larisa Shepitko retrospective at the American Cinematheque in August. I would definitely recommend finding a DVD copy. Is certainly a much more interesting take on the historical biopic genre and Aleksei Petrenko's performance is outstanding.

No one seems to have noticed, but Kino released this on DVD recently. I can't find any reviews, but it's possible it is a port of the Ruscico DVD. Anyone happen to pick it up?

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Scharphedin2
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#3 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun May 14, 2006 1:47 pm

Hey Slime,

I am looking forward to seeing "Come and See"... almost bought the Ruscico edition a few months back, but then noticed that it was about to be released in the UK... which edition do you have? How is the quality of the film?

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Ashirg
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#4 Post by Ashirg » Sun May 14, 2006 3:15 pm

Here's a review of Kino's disc. It's not a port from Ruscico because Ruscico edition is anamorphic and is spread onto 2 discs.

Anonymous

#5 Post by Anonymous » Mon May 15, 2006 1:32 pm

First of all thanks for the review of the Kino disc. I hadn't seen that before and the screen captures make the film look compelling. However, I think I'll go for the Ruscico version as a greater range of subtitles are available (and my wife is Japanese so shell be able to watch it too).

Secondly, the UK edition of 'Come And See' by Nouveaux Pictures is taken from Ruscico it would seem (the opening titles and music is the same as Ruscico releases). However, this version lacks the extensive range of subtitles available on the Ruscico version. The image quality isn't quite up to the standards of some DVD releases but is still very good and I have no problems with it.

I'd be curious to know what your opinion of Shepitko's 'Ascent' is.

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Ashirg
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#6 Post by Ashirg » Mon May 15, 2006 1:43 pm

Shepitko's 'Ascent' is one of my favorite films of all time. It's kind of Christian allegory of the war from Soviet perspective with one soldier being like a Christ figure and another being a Judas figure.

Intersting to know, even though it won Golden Berlin Bear at 1977 Berlin International Film Festival, Fassbinder who was in the jury that year was very outspoken against giving the prize to this film.

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tavernier
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#7 Post by tavernier » Tue May 16, 2006 12:57 am

Since no one responded in another thread, I'll put this here:

[quote]Film Society of Lincoln Center Welcomes

Farewell: A Tribute to Elem Klimov and Larisa Shepitko

May 19th-30th, 2006 at the Walter Reade Theatre


NEW YORK CITY, APRIL 28, 2006—The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Seagull Film with the assistance of the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography and Concern Mosfilm today announced the film series FAREWELL: A TRIBUTE TO ELEM KLIMOV AND LARISA SHEPITKO, a comprehensive survey of the work of two of Soviet cinema's brightest lights.

In November 2000, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Seagull Films presented Revolution in the Revolution: Soviet Cinema of the 60s, a series that revealed the creative Renaissance of Soviet filmmaking during a time when various other “new wavesâ€

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Ashirg
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#8 Post by Ashirg » Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:46 am

Posted here. It's still a work in progress....

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Lemmy Caution
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#9 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:14 am

Okay, Russian films with English subtitles here.
Those without, over there.

I'll probably pick up Ordinary Fascism and Come and See this week, and will know for sure on those.

And Matt thanks for Php code assist. I'll try to set up the links sometime soon.

Things looking up. I finally was able in-store to pop in one of the Ruscico discs with only Cyrillic on the cover, and lo and behold, it not only has English subtitles, but also an English menu, and subtitles for another 12 or so languages. I found a couple other DVDs with Russian-only covers also had English subtitles. So I'll list those and try to check on the other Ruscico discs when I find them (and can check).

Chapaev aka Chapayev (1934)
- The chronicle of one illiterate Russian Civil War hero. Apparently this film was something of a cultural touchstone in Russia.
Quality: Some light-dark flickering, but overall looks pretty good for a film of its age. Good English subtitles, even providing subbies for letters and other writing shown on-screen. One drawback: a small logo and two Russian words which remain in the bottom left corner for the duration of the film.

Tiger Girl aka Ukrotitelnitsa tigrov (1954)
Colors look bit off. Heavy on the red-tint in what might be the Soviet-equivalent of Technicolor. Small white speckles throughout. English and Russian subtitles not so sub, but rather about a third of the way up the screen (mid-titles?). Chinese sub-titles though are properly towards the botttom. Overall, not too bad, but could cretainly use restoration work.

The Captivating Star of Happiness aka Zvezda plenitelnogo schastya (1975)
- A costume drama set in 1825 dealing with love, loyalty, rebellion and exile. Ruscico.
Quality seems mediocre. In the few scenes I skipped through, the background is often shimmery, color fluctuates, etc. At moments, you can see how good the film must have looked, and could be, with restoration.

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tryavna
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#10 Post by tryavna » Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:29 pm

Lemmy Caution wrote:Chapaev aka Chapayev (1934)
- The chronicle of one illiterate Russian Civil War hero. Apparently this film was something of a cultural touchstone in Russia.
Quality: Some light-dark flickering, but overall looks pretty good for a film of its age. Good English subtitles, even providing subbies for letters and other writing shown on-screen. One drawback: a small logo and two Russian words which remain in the bottom left corner for the duration of the film.
This is a title that I'd be particularly interested in getting; however, I can't even find it on RUSCICO's own website! Are you sure it isn't a bootleg of some sort? (I ask because you mention a logo appearing in the corner for the duration of the film, and I've never known that to be a problem with any of RUSCICO's releases.) Maybe it's an upcoming release and just got leaked early...?

The Russian title -- Чапаев -- also doesn't seem to appear on the Russian-language listing of DVDs.

Anyway, if you find a reputable online e-tailer who carries it, please let us know. As somebody mentioned in another thread recently, this is one of those supposedly great Soviet films of the 1930s that have been forgotten because of lack of availability. (Now, if only somebody would release the second two installments of the Gorky Trilogy on English-friendly discs....)

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Lemmy Caution
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#11 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sat Nov 18, 2006 5:46 pm

Sorry, maybe I was a bit unclear. Of the three films I mentioned above, only the The Captivating Star is from Ruscico. Chapaev and Tiger Girl are from other labels.
I've also seen another handful of Ruscico titles with Cyrillic-only covers and didn't expect them to have English. Now I'll have to check (and also find out what films they are).

I'm in China, so almost all of the discs, probably including the Ruscico's, are bootlegs.
The edition I have is from the Russian Close-up label, and is the second Chapaev listed on this page.
(just scroll down aways -- after the beginning entries, the titles are in alphabetical order)

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Kirkinson
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#12 Post by Kirkinson » Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:09 am

When we say "Soviet" films, how wide a net are we casting in this thread? I ask because the films listed from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan both post-date those nations' status as Soviet states. Are we including films from all former Soviet states (the Central Asian, Transcaucasian, and Baltic republics, plus Moldavia, Ukraine, and Belarus) even if they were made after the Soviet Union ceased to exist?

This isn't a criticism, I'm just curious. I'm sure most (if not all) of these countries don't have enough films on DVD with English subtitles to warrant their own threads, so it's probably a good idea to put them in one place like this, even if their connection nowadays is marginal (or even strained).
Lemmy Caution wrote:Things looking up. I finally was able in-store to pop in one of the Ruscico discs with only Cyrillic on the cover, and lo and behold, it not only has English subtitles, but also an English menu, and subtitles for another 12 or so languages. I found a couple other DVDs with Russian-only covers also had English subtitles. So I'll list those and try to check on the other Ruscico discs when I find them (and can check).
This is standard practice with Ruscico. I'm fairly certain at least that all the DVDs listed in the English section of their web site have English menus and subtitles, even if they have only Russian covers. The Russian version of their web site used to list more DVDs that they only sold in Russia that had no English subtitles, but those seem to have disappeared now, as far as I can see. I think these were mostly non-Russian films anyway (I specifically remember Belle de jour and Superman II, for example).

From Ruscico's "About" page:
For each of the collection's films, a copyrighted DVD version has been created which includes an interactive menu (100-150 pages) in three languages (Russian, English, French), with elements of graphic design and animation, and recorded in a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound format.
&
Each film in the collection is specially provided with 10-13 subtitled versions with qualified translation. A standard choice of subtitled versions includes the Russian, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese languages.

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Lemmy Caution
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#13 Post by Lemmy Caution » Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:19 pm

I was figuring this thread could take on Soviet, Russian and CIS films.

Well that's encouraging info on Ruscico. I hope it corresponds to what I find, as I know I've seen another maybe half-dozen Cyrillic-only Ruscico DVDs around.

[The last two weeks, the best store has had a damaged remote control, so i couldn't check for subtitles. I did tell them where to fix it, so it might be okay by now. But if I the discs are likely to have English, I can just buy them and check at home].

The Dawns Here Are Quiet aka A zori zdes tikhie (1972)
Directed by Stanislav Rostotsky. Ruscico.

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Jason
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Russian Films & Filmmakers

#14 Post by Jason » Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:15 pm

Very fascinating Russian filmmaker specializing in family films. Last night, I watched Vasilisa the Beautiful (1939) and until then had only seen Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors (1964). I have copies of other R1 DVD releases and will be watching them throughout the month. I only wish more was written about the man and his career.

Anyone else here familiar with him?

Anonymous

Russian Films

#15 Post by Anonymous » Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:26 pm

What Russian sound films do you recommend outside of Tarkovsky and Eisenstein?
thanks

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orlik
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#16 Post by orlik » Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:48 pm

jonbeckjon wrote:What Russian sound films do you recommend outside of Tarkovsky and Eisenstein?
You could do worse than starting with these classics: Larissa Shepitko's 'The Ascent', Mikhail Kalatozov's 'The Cranes Are Flying', Kira Muratova's 'The Aesthenic Syndrome' and - though this is cheating a bit - Kalatozov's Soviet-Cuban coproduction 'I Am Cuba'.

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#17 Post by portnoy » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:21 pm

jonbeckjon wrote:What Russian sound films do you recommend outside of Tarkovsky and Eisenstein?
Limiting myself to one-per director:

Ballad of a Soldier - Grigori Chukhrai (technically Ukranian)
Volga Volga - Grigori Aleksandrov (the best of the Soviet socialist realist musicals, starring
Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath - Eldar Ryzanov
Sibiriade - Andrei Konchalovsky
White Desert of the Sun - Vladimir Motyl (maybe the biggest hit in Russian history - a Russian 'Western' that was shown to Cosmonauts before every launch)
War and Peace - Sergei Bondarchuk
Tale of Tales - Yuriy Norshtein

Also, though he's not Russian and never made a film that was particularly 'Russian' or even Soviet, Sergei Paradjanov and his cinema deserves a mention here. Also, the Norshtein is only scratching the surface of Russian and Soviet animation, one of the greatest animation industries of the 20th century.

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zedz
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#18 Post by zedz » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:30 pm

I second all of Orlik's, and here are some more suggestions (don't know about the availability of all of these):

Paradzhanov - Colour of Pomegranates, Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors
Iosselliani - I prefer his early films like Pastorale, but he's pretty consistent: anything should give you a taste of his distinctive style.
More Muratova - she's one of the greatest and strangest living filmmakers. The Asthenic Syndrome is the essential lump of gristle at the heart of her oeuvre, but Brief Encounters, Long Farewell, Sentimental Cop, Three Stories and Chekhovian Motifs are all incarnations of her peculiar genius
Tengiz Abuladze - Repentance is a grand, strange film. I haven't seen any others.
Aleksandr Sokhurov - a fair amount available, with Mother and Son, Russian Ark and The Sun possibly the best places to start.
Yuri Norstein - one of the greatest animators in the history of the medium. His Tale of Tales is a Mirror-sized achievement, but I don't know if any of his work is available on DVD.
Vitaly Kanevsky - I don't know what ever happened to him, but his first two features, Freeze-Die-Come to Life and An Independent Life, are masterpieces.
Lidia Bobrova - One of the contemporary masters. In That Country is spellbinding, but to my knowledge she hasn't made a bad film.
Aleksandr Rogozhkin - Primarily for his amazing The Guard, but Checkpoint and The Cuckoo are also good.

I've never been much of a fan of the Mikhalkovs, but they have their fans, and they're historically significant.

Plus some strong recent films off the top of my head: The Return (Zviyagintsev), The Last Train (German).

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tryavna
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#19 Post by tryavna » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:39 pm

Be sure to check out Mark Donskoy's Gorky Trilogy, too. I rewatched the first installment (The Childhood of Maxim Gorky) about a month ago and was incredibly impressed. It struck me as being very Renoir-esque in the scope of its humanist outlook.

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Der Müde Tod
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#20 Post by Der Müde Tod » Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:06 pm

Besides many of those already mentioned above:

Klimov: Come and See
Askoldov: Komissar

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Jason
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#21 Post by Jason » Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:16 pm

I like Aleksandr Rou a lot.

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#22 Post by mikeohhh » Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:43 pm

I suppose this is as good a place to ask as any: is The Aesthenic Syndrome available on DVD anywhere?

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Quot
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#23 Post by Quot » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:11 pm

zedz wrote:Yuri Norstein - one of the greatest animators in the history of the medium. His Tale of Tales is a Mirror-sized achievement, but I don't know if any of his work is available on DVD.
You can pick up any of the four volumes of "Masters of Russian Animation" thru Amazon (Norstein is featured prominently in Vol. 2, and Tale of Tales is on Vol. 3), or you can get the box set at russiananimation.com (they also have a French DVD, The Complete Works of Yuri Norstein).

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Kirkinson
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#24 Post by Kirkinson » Tue Dec 12, 2006 12:27 am

Seconded suggestions:
Paradjanov - Sayat Nova/Color of Pomegranates is his magnum opus, but you can pick any available film at random and it'll still be extraordinary.
Otar Iosseliani - At best he's only marginally "Russian," and he dislikes being labeled as such, but he's one of my favorite filmmakers (and my current avatar). The 2-disc set of his early films is an excellent place to start out. Zedz is quite right about his consistency, though I'm tempted to say he reached his apex with Brigands: Chapter VII (the Facets DVD is an utter coprolite, though).
Kalatozov - The aforementioned I Am Cuba and The Cranes are Flying are both stupefying, and (if you can find it) Salt for Svanetia is excellent as well.
Yuri Norstein - I've only just begun to look into his work, but so far I would be in complete agreement with any praise heaped on it.
Askoldov - Komissar seconded. I didn't actually get to see the whole thing, but what I did see was quite good.

Further suggestions:
Tengiz Abuladze - Like Iosseliani, not actually Russian, but absolutely relevant to Soviet cinema. Zedz covered Repentance, which is indeed great, and The Plea and The Wishing Tree are even better. You might still want to check out Repentance first, just because it's the only one you'll be able to find for rent. (Ruscico has subtitled, region-free editions of the other two, but they haven't been ported to other territories.)
Georgy Daneliya - Autumn Marathon and Kin-Dza-Dza are the best that I've seen. The first is a subtle, moving romantic drama (called "a sad comedy" in the opening credits, though the comedy is limited mostly to scenes with Yevgeny Leonov) and the latter is a strange sci-fi comedy that might be hard to get into, but is very rewarding if you do (for English subtitles on that one you'll have to visit superhappyfun.com). Also, Mimino isn't a great film, but it will give you a really interesting look into minorities' lives in the former Soviet Union.
Boris Barnet - The only sound film I've seen is Outskirts (and it's only sort of half-sound) but it's extremely good. I've heard great things about a couple of others, but I haven't been able to locate them.
Ilya Krzhanovsky - His first film 4 has been traveling around festivals. It's an exhausting film, but well worth the effort. If you have Netflix, they've currently got exclusive rights to it in the US. Otherwise, I'm not sure what availability is like.

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solaris72
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#25 Post by solaris72 » Tue Dec 12, 2006 1:38 am

Quot wrote:
zedz wrote:Yuri Norstein - one of the greatest animators in the history of the medium. His Tale of Tales is a Mirror-sized achievement, but I don't know if any of his work is available on DVD.
You can pick up any of the four volumes of "Masters of Russian Animation" thru Amazon (Norstein is featured prominently in Vol. 2, and Tale of Tales is on Vol. 3), or you can get the box set at russiananimation.com (they also have a French DVD, The Complete Works of Yuri Norstein).
Better yet, you can get Norstein's complete works (so far) on a single disc, plus a 15 minute interview here. Quality (as with most obscure foreign animation DVDs) isn't great, but it's definitely no worse than the Masters of Russian Animation discs.

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