Yevgeni Bauer

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Yevgeni Bauer

#1 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Apr 02, 2006 8:00 am

So now that the word is spreading beneath the surface of the board, let's go public-- any others who have seen Yevgeni Bauer's work around here and were (of course) equally shocked? May have been the most ahead-of-his-time filmmaker who ever lived, and those whove seen him know what I mean. (This was why I mentioned him early on the MOST ORIGINAL FILMMAKERS thread).

There are some Milestone and BFI DVDs and also a dedicated VHS with additional content.

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#2 Post by Donald Trampoline » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:20 pm

So now that the word is spreading beneath the surface of the board, let's go public-- any others who have seen Yevgeni Bauer's work around here
The Milestone DVD is excellent. I enjoyed it tremendously. Three whole feature films! I think the lack of knowledge about the evolution of the feature film perhaps makes him seem more ahead of his time than he actually is. (If someone thought Birth of a Nation just came out of nowhere and all of a sudden there were feature films rather than a slow trend towards that direction, with films getting increasingly longer. Also there are other foreign filmmakers with feature-length films such as "Last Days of Pompeii" from 1913, and also some pretty long Griffiths before "Birth." Although "Birth" certainly exploded it all much longer and changed the market entirely.)

Although I assume you are also (or mainly) referring to his artistic quality. Well, it's hard when he's a contemporary of Griffith, but he is really excellent and highly worth viewing. I certainly agree. I think it would be hard not to be impressed and have a reaction that he was artistically ahead of the curve.

(As a side note, I wish that Milestone's incredible Russian silent cinema VHS box set would become available on DVD. I believe this Bauer DVD is just the small portion of that that they have released on DVD. The VHS was like 8 tapes or something and had some very early, pristinely restored Russian silent films going way, way, way back.)

In any case, I agree this Evgeni Bauer DVD is a MUST SEE! (Haven't seen the BFI's yet.)

Later we gotta start a thread for that excellent 4-disc "Forgotten Films of Fatty Arbuckle" DVD. I've only watched part of disc 1, but I love it and am very happy that these are available in decent quality.

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#3 Post by david hare » Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:03 pm

After Death is possibly the first masterpiece in world cinema. And the other two titles on the Milestone/BFI discs are not far behind, if at all. Indeed the progression into irony towards the fashionably morbid subject matter of the era in Dying Swan is also a radical step in narrative unequalled by anyone else working in movies at the time. In fact Bauer sems to anticipate Murnau and Sternberg formally and stylistically by a decade. He has been THE discovery of the last 20 years for me, along with Gremillon.

The Milestone box set includes a sixth disc of Bauer titles which are additional to the three released in R1 and R2. I'm prepared to wait a little while for a DVD release (Indeed would love to see the whole box on disc) but I don't know how much interest buyers have shown in the set, let alone the incredible Bauer.

Question for R1 owners, does the Milestone also include the superb Yuri Tsivian commentary from the BFI disc? I could listen to this guy read the telephone book!

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#4 Post by htdm » Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:20 pm

I think I may have posted this before somewhere on this site (or maybe the old board) but if you can, definitely try to find a copy of a CD-ROM entitled Immaterial Bodies: A Cultural Analysis of Early Russian Films. This is a bilingual (Russian/English) CD-ROM narrated by Tsivian that covers nearly 100 of Bauer's early films. I believe it was produced by USC (probably back when Tsivian was still teaching there) and it has to be one of the most effective and affecting studies of film that I've ever run across. Tsivian is his characteristically measured self, analyzing in great detail these early films -- his comments on lighting patterns and editing styles was particularly interesting I recall.

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#5 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:16 am

davidhare wrote:Question for R1 owners, does the Milestone also include the superb Yuri Tsivian commentary from the BFI disc? I could listen to this guy read the telephone book!
The R1 doesn't have a "commentary" per se, but an "extras" feature which has him speaking over sections over critical points in all three films (the camera move in & the beautiful lighting techniques of TWILIGHT OF A WOMAN'S SOUL, the mindbending Tarkovsky-esqe long track & netherworld scenes in AFTER DEATH, etc).

One of the posters above, re knowledge of early film.. I own all the Griffiths, but, more importantly for comparison's sake, the very early features (if we're genuinely talking about the evolution of the feature film, then we must go before Griffith by several years) like the far more important work than POMPEII the Italians were doing (QUO VADIS, but most importantly CABIRIA), plus the work being done in the US. Too much credit is given to Griffith ex post facto for editing-- ever see George Loan Tucker's TRAFFIC IN SOULS from 1913? This man, whose best work (also the obvious MIRACLE MAN from a bit later) is sadly lost, was a very early monster of sharp editing conception. Camera movement-- Griffith was heavily influenced by the Italians of 1913-14... Of course RICHARD III from 1912 is required ownership so that overemphasis on Griffith in the USA years prior to 1915 is avoided. Griffiths high point of technical innovation was of course INTOLERANCE. EDIT-- plus of course Walsh's REGENERATION from 1915-- most of the technical elements of BIRTH OH NATION Griffith are there-- the closeups, the camera moves, the hypercinematic storytelling quality.

But as for an advanced conception of cinematic hyper-sophistication, of emotional nuance and effect, of light-year advances in all areas (mindblowing closeups, editing, mise-en-scene, camera movement, location shooting full of natural light, in-studio exaggerated chiaroscuro) with absolutely no trace of outside influence whatsoever, with an end product which can sit beside anything produced today, Bauer stands head and shoulders over the teens. 50 minute films of crystalline perfection.

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#6 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:05 am

So now that the word is spreading beneath the surface of the board, let's go public-- any others who have seen Yevgeni Bauer's work around here
I viewed these films a couple of days ago, and just finished listening to Tsivian's “video essayâ€

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#7 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:03 am

sCHARPH wrote: Now, I was wondering whether it would be possible for Milestone to make a limited DVD-R run of this series (or maybe just selected volumes in the series), if a group of people were to approach them with such a request. Do any of you know, if such a thing would even be worth proposing to them?
I think the odds would be higher to either find old VHS's still for sale, or find a user with the tapes and get him to pull you a rip to DVDr.

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#8 Post by unclehulot » Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:25 am

I think those Milestone tapes were actually done WITH macrovision copyguard (perhaps someone could check?), which could make DVDR conversion tougher. Certainly Milestone's VHS tapes of CHANG and GRASS (and that whole series) were copyguard afflicted.

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#9 Post by david hare » Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:22 am

THAT's never stopped anyone.

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#10 Post by Rufus T. Firefly » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:05 pm

It's mentioned on David Bordwell's blog that Bauer's final film The King of Paris will be getting a DVD release.
Nikolai has also finished a DVD edition of Prite that exemplifies what he calls hyperkino, a way of annotating and comparing a film’s images, texts, and supplementary materials for instant access. Another project involves the Yevgenii Bauer classic, The King of Paris (1917), which Kuleshov completed. We haven’t had the intertitles for this, however, but now Nikolai has discovered them, and they will go on the DVD version that is being completed. For more information on these projects and Dokhunda, go to
According to the IMDb the film was completed by Olga Rakhmanova - Kuleshov was the art director. But anyway.

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#11 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:57 am

Sounds good; given the fact that the Hyperkino/Kuleshev dvd is on arte stummfilmedition (released these days), I have hopes that the Bauer will come from the same (excellent) label.

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#12 Post by Felix » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:23 pm

Tommaso wrote:Sounds good; given the fact that the Hyperkino/Kuleshev dvd is on arte stummfilmedition (released these days), I have hopes that the Bauer will come from the same (excellent) label.
It is also known as For Luck and is available on VHS at the moment. I was waiting to try and get the bit below hammered into some sort of proper shape but while we are on the subject of Bauer I will post it now.
What prompted me to do it was watching the Bauer Video in the Early Russian Cinema series and seeing the incredible Daydreams which for me is his finest work and a masterpiece of silent film.
It drips with decadence and would make the most extraordinary double bill with Vertigo, to the extent that I wonder if the translator of the subtitles wasn't deliberately choosing certain phrases. Whatever your thoughts about investing in videos at this late stage, this one really is worth it. He has about an hour's worth of material on each of three of the other Early Russian Cinema series as well which people may not be aware of. these are very substantial films for their age and I can only echo what others have said here. Hope this paste works OK...

Dyadushkina kvartira (1913) (co-director)
aka Uncle's Apartment (International: English title)

Sumerki zhenskoi dushi (1913)
aka Twilight of a Woman's Soul (International: English title) (UK)

Mad Love. BFI/Milestone DVD

Vot mchitza troikapotchovaria (1914)

Volnaya ptitsa (1914)
aka Freed Bird (International: English title)

Ditya bolshogo goroda (1914)
aka Child of the Big City (USA)
Early Russian Cinema Volume 7,”Evgenii Bauer”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.

The story "traces the heroine Manechka/Mary's evolution from a poor innocent seamstress to a monster of depravity and egotism. Her 'rise' is paralleled by the fall of her idealistic admirer, Viktor, who finally commits suicide in face of her callous disregard." Atypical of the romantic melodramas of the period, Bauer's heroine is the lover whose eyes stray, the one who pursues, while the hero is victimized. Its a sophisticated notion in an early Russian film that chronicles the dramas and comedies of sexuality later popularized in American films by DeMille and Swanson. With: Elena Smirnova as Manechka/Mary, Nina Koxlianinova as Man'ka as a child, Mikhail Salarov as Viktor Kratsov, Arsenii Bibikov as Kramsaki, Lonid Lost as Kratsov's lackey, Lidiia Tridenskaia ass Masha, the laundress, and Emma Bauer as a dancer.

Slyozy (1914)
aka Tears
(International: English title)

Nemye svideteli (1914)
aka Mute Witnesses or Silent Witnesses
Early Russian Cinema Volume 6,”Class Distinctions”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.

As befits the title of this video from the series, Class Distinctions, this film deals with the relations between the servants and masters of a house. The master, Pavel feels unrequited love for the duplicitous Ellen, played by the beautiful Elsa Kreuger. In his cups Pavel seduces the maid Nastya only to abandon her when Ellen seems once more to respond to his advances.
Another technical tour de force with split screens and deep focus, the latter used to bring as many as three different sets of action into play in the frame, though there is little camera movement. A stunning overhead shot near the end. The sets are as detailed and lavish as ever though Bauer’s normally impeccable composition within the frame leads me to believe that the print is cropped on the left, though it hardly matters as you are never likely to see this in any other print. A mere twelve inter-title cards throughout, in Russian with English subs, recreated from the original script by Tsvian. The print is fine for almost 100 years old and does not interfere with either the detail or the enjoyment of the film. And as has been noticed elsewhere, the resemblance of Nastya’s grandfather, the porter, to Jannings’ in The Last Laugh twelve years later is unmissable. Given Bauer’s influence on Murnau we may speculate as to how accidental it is.
(Also included is Goncharov’s 30minute The Peasant’s Lot from 1912, a slight piece but well put together and not as boring as the director’s name might have you believe…)

Eyo geroyskiy podvig (1914)

Zhizn v smerti (1914)
aka Life in Death (International: English title)

Slava - nam, smert' - vragam (1914)

Posle smerti (1915)
aka After Death (International: English title: informal literal title)
Mad Love. BFI/Milestone DVD

Leon Drey (1915)
aka Pokoritel, Zhenskikh Serdets (Russia)

Gryozy (1915)
aka Daydreams (USA)
Early Russian Cinema Volume 7,”Evgenii Bauer”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.
Alternative title Deceived. A young widower mourns the loss of his beautiful wife. The woman's image is everywhere -- on strangers in the street or on an opera singer at the theater. He allows himself to be deceived by a woman he thinks looks like hid dead wife. She, in turn, becomes increasingly angered by his obsession. This film is the most cinematically ambitious of the Bauer works in this collection of early Russian films. It's strikingly photographed and directed though it is at times extremely morbid in presenting the protagonist's mania about his dead wife.

Tysyacha vtoraya khitrost (1915)
aka The 1002nd Ruse (USA: video title)
Early Russian Cinema Volume 7,”Evgenii Bauer”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.

A romantic farce about the ways a beautiful wife might make a cuckold of her husband. The style is evocative of the sexual comedies of DeMille and Lubitsch -- light of touch and full of irony. With: Lina Bauer as the cunning wife, S. Rassatov as her husband, Sergei Kvansnitskii as her lover.

Pesn torzhestvuyushchey lyubvi (1915)
aka Song of Triumphant Love (International: English title)

Obozhzhenniye krylya (1915)
aka Singed Wings (International: English title)

Schastye vechnoy nochi (1915)

Deti veka (1915)
Children of the Age

Koroleva ekrana (1916)
aka Queen of the Screen

Zhizn za zhizn (1916)
aka A Life for a Life (International: English title)
66 minutes
Early Russian Cinema Volume 9,”High Society”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.

Grif starogo bortsa (1916)
aka Griffon of an Old Warrior (International: English title)

Korol Parizha (1917)
aka The King of Paris (International: English title: informal title)

Umirayushchii Lebed (1917)
aka The Dying Swan (UK)
Mad Love. BFI/Milestone DVD

Revolutsioner (1917)
aka Revolutionist (International: English title) or The Revolutionary
35 minutes
Early Russian Cinema Volume 10,”End Of An Era”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.

Nabat (1917)
aka The Alarm (International: English title: informal title)

Za schastem (1917)
aka For Luck (UK)
Early Russian Cinema Volume 10,”End Of An Era”. BFI/Milestone, Video, not DVD.

40 minutes ... rsors.html

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#13 Post by Felix » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:27 pm

Here is a piece from a British newspaper on the occassion of a series of the films, back in the early 1990s I think. I have edited it to focus on Bauer, no URL, this is from an old cutting.

A peculiarity of Tsarist cinema is the fact that it bypassed the form’s initial primitive period; it began during the second age of cinema (1908-1914) with the production of artistically complete and coherent films. After the earliest, based on events from national history, a distinct school began to emerge. For the most part adaptations of popular melodramas, these films are marked by their preoccupation with morbid psychology and fatalism. These tales of thwarted and betrayed love, private fantasy, perverse obsession, pedophilia and incest lead inexorably to murder or suicide. Indeed, most are so pessimistic that a second, less tragic, ending was often shot to make them more palatable for Western audiences.

Bauer and Protazanov were the most accomplished practitioners of this genre and excel in depictions of psychological torment.
Perhaps the most significant technical innovation of these films is their expansion of cinematographic space. From 1910, directors strove to bring greater depth to the flatness of the screen by evolving an aesthetic of three dimensions. Once more Bauer was the most successful and influential. Previously a set designer in the theatre, he brought to the cinema an architectonic sense of space, enabling him to achieve a depth of field long before Renoir or Welles. His technique is to create three or four separate spaces within the frame by means of décor. Interior dividing walls, curtains and stretches of flowers create a foreground, middleground, and background. A recurrent device in Bauer’s sets is extension of dramatic space into an imaginary space by open doors and staircases rising out of the frame.

The amplification of the screen’s two dimensions into three equally enlarges the scope of his mise-en-scene. He was able to show two or three distinct events simultaneously, all perfectly in focus, thereby decentralizing the action. For example, a kitchen scene from Silent Witnesses shows a conversation in the middleground, an extra in the background, and a third character sunk in melancholic meditation in the foreground. The more complex organization of the sets also deepens their psychological acuity. At the end of A Life for A Life, the daughter is prevented from throwing herself on the corpse of her lover. Pushed to the other side of the column by her murderous adoptive mother, she is in effect excluded from the mourning of the murdered man.
The architectural elements of his sets also have a practical purpose: to hide projection lamps which may light the set from odd and unconventional angles. Bauer had a painter’s sensibility for the expressiveness of black and white; along with Meyerhold, he held that film was “painting with light”. His images are consequentially highly wrought, the emphasis placed firmly on the pictorial composition. In Twilight of a Woman’s Soul, he produces delightfully exaggerated, melodramatic contrasts between claustrophobic, ominous interiors and dazzlingly illuminated exteriors.

Superimposition and trick photography are favourite devices employed to complicate the psychological portrait. They are a means of projecting unconscious desires, fantasies, and paranoiac visions on the outside world. Locked in an embrace the heroine of Twilight of a Woman’s Soul sees her fiancé momentarily transformed into the beggar she has murdered.

A final feature of this cinematography is, paradoxically, its immobility. Takes are frequently front-on and protracted, editing is minimal and camera movement is rare and so slow as to be unnoticeable. The films therefore tend to read as a succession of tableaux vivants. This derives from Stanislavski and the theory of the psychological pause, during which the camera, an instrument of physiognomy, lingers on the characters, studying in minute detail their every reaction.

While early American and European films are often characterized by accelerated, jerky movement, the Russians, at an early stage, mastered the technique of faithfully reproduced movement. This was in part unintentional: in an attempt to counteract the accelerated projection of films in the provinces, they were shot at a greater speed. An effect of constant slowness is thus produced, infusing the action with increasing foreboding.

The most fitting metaphor for this festival is to be found in a recurrent theme of Bauer’s oeuvre: the past which returns to haunt his characters. In Daydreams, a husband who has tragically lost his young and beautiful wife, believes he discovers her reincarnation in an actress. He follows her to the theatre where she performs in Meyerbeer’s Robert Le Diable. The final scene depicts her rising from the grave. Interred for years, the pre-revolutionary Russian cinema has now been resurrected.
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Re: Yevgeni Bauer

#14 Post by rhbecker » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:17 am

In case someone is still watching this thread, the 10-volume set from Milestone appears to be available on DVD-R." onclick=";return false;

I have no idea of the quality. Maybe someone else can offer an assessment?

Does anyone know if anything came of the King of Paris rumored release?

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Re: Yevgeni Bauer

#15 Post by Matt » Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:35 am

They're basically DVD-R copies of the VHS masters, so no remastering. And they've been available for several years, actually.

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