“BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN” TURNS 90 (I)
Maksim SHTRAUKH. “Battleship Potemkin” production diary
“Potemkin”’s mise-en-scènes and mise-en-cadres
Eduard TISSE. The Russian cameraman. Translated by Naum Kleiman
The first part of the section dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Sergei Eisenstein’s classic film “Battleship Potemkin” (1925) includes two documents by members of the film crew: the diary of one of Eisenstein’s assistants, Maksim Shtraukh, and an article by the film’s cameraman, Eduard Tisse, for the German magazine “Filmkritik” (1927). They are supplemented by schemes for constructing mise-en-scènes and mise-en-cadres, which were probably created by Eisenstein’s students based on his analyses drafted for the “Direction” textbook.
Igor' AVDEEV. The mystery of one letter. A hypothesis
This account concerns establishing the exact place of birth of the noted Soviet film director of the 1920s, one of the founders of Belarusian cinema Yuri Tarich. Newly discovered facts stress significant changes that the director was forced to make in his biography due to the specifics of the political situation in the 1920s-30s.
Ksenia KOSENKOVA. “Britain is ready”. English film propaganda of the First World War
The article examines political, social, cultural, and, most importantly, cinematic features of state propaganda in the 1910s English cinema.
Vladimir MISLAVSKIY. Relationships between Sovkino and VUFKU in the 1920s
Based on a number of 1920s documents, the author describes the history of a drawn-out conflict between Sovkino and VUFKU, who for several years could not agree on the principles of mutual film distribution. VUFKU was afraid of falling into Sovkino’s subordination and therefore saw their collaboration in the field of distribution only in terms of purchase and sale. Sovkino instead insisted on the mutual exchange of films with subsequent allocation of a fixed percentage from each film’s profit. The normalization of Soviet distribution was only achieved after the State film and photo combine “Soyuzkino” was formed in 1930. As a result, all matters of distribution were centralized.
Maria BOGOMOLOVA. Andrey Platonov’s first film work. The history of “The Sand Teacher”’s film adaptation
Libretto of “The Sand Teacher” by Andrey Platonov. “Version № 6, final”. Introduction, publication, and commentary by Maria Bogomolova
The text, published here for the first time, is interesting not only as a document from the history of Russian cinema. It is a unique evidence of the close collaboration between the author and beginning scriptwriter Andrey Platonov and the master of Soviet screenwriting Viktor Shklovsky.
The publication is preceded by an article by a Platonov scholar, Maria Bogomolova: “Andrey Platonov’s first film work. The history of “The Sand Teacher”’s film adaptation”.
“BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN” TURNS 90 (II)
A sailor from “Potemkin” watches “Battleship Potemkin”. Observation of a viewer
Louis ARAGON. Battleship Potemkin. Translated by Vera Rumyantseva
Viktor SHKLOVSKY. Battleship Potemkin
Mikhail SHNEYDER. The great flagship
Adolf RUDNICKI. Circles. Translated by Miron Chernenko
Ryszard KRYNICKI. Battleship. Translated by Anna Mirkes-Radziwon and Vera Rumyantseva
Viktor LISTOV. “To understand an epigraph…”
The second part of our anniversary section shows the “movement” of “Potemkin” through time: a first reaction (commentary by a “Potemkin” sailor and an essay by Louis Aragon), pre-war reflections of Soviet critics Viktor Shklovsky and Mikhail Shneyder, the film’s reception in Poland in the 1960s-70s (an essay by Adolf Rudnicki and a poem by Ryszard Krynicki). The selection concludes with reflections of film scholar and historian Viktor Listov that concern the reasons for and the meaning behind the change of epigraphs to “Potemkin”.
EXPERIENCE AND REFLECTIONS
Ivan KOZLENKO. Kavaleridze: cinema in a cube
According to the author of this essay, which concerns Ivan Kavaleridze and introduces unknown and little-known facts of his biography, the director “made sure his biography retained the same monolithic unity as the filmography he personally constructed; from which he deleted the films that could break the logic of his self-representational strategy as a film innovator and experimenter. The inverted time of personal history that he thus molded preserves carefully hidden lacunas—the only places of truth on which a contemporary scholar of Kavaleridze should rely”.
Valeriy TURITSYN. Josef von Sternberg: the beginnings
The article looks at Sternberg’s early career and specifically at his original debut “The Salvation Hunters”, which was noticed by many of the 1920s experts but was not sufficiently analyzed in terms of its visual complex at the time and later was practically forgotten.
Veronika KONDRASHINA. Traditions of absurdism in the later works of Buñuel
Having decided to “expand the view on the works of Luis Buñuel”, the author analyzes the master’s later films as vivid examples of absurdism. Noting that the absurd can exist on a level of a technique that breaks the logic of meaning (logical absurdism) as well as on a broader level of everyday life, the author uses specific examples to show how the director “creates” the absurd: by constructing a-logical phrases and dialogues, playing with codes, “colliding” metaphors, creating complex structures (dream within a dream, collaged time), and erasing temporal, spatial, and moral boundaries. At the same time the author argues that Buñuel’s later films present an intentional contemplation of reality with a detached eye.
Valentin MIKHALKOVICH. Eisenstein and Bazin: meaning through appearances. A 1983 speech in the Union of Soviet Filmmakers at a roundtable dedicated to Sergei Eisenstein’s 85th anniversary
The conclusion of this slightly unexpected juxtaposition is quite persuasive: “It is not about proclaiming Eisenstein a forerunner of Bazin, or, on the contrary, Bazin a follower of Eisenstein. By putting together these two names I would first of all like to stress that there are objective laws of the development of art and that every major theoretician, if he is indeed a major theoretician, inevitably moves towards the understanding of these laws”.
From Eisenstein’s library
Vera RUMIANTSEVA. “I was mad about Jonson for a reason…” On a book from Eisenstein’s library
“...to a free man”. Paul Fejos to Sergei Eisenstein. Translation and publication by Artiom Sopin
In T.S.Eliot’s book “The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism”, Eisenstein marked certain paragraphs in a chapter on Ben Jonson and wrote on the margins: “Potemkin!” Reflections on the connections between the Elizabethan dramatist and Eisenstein’s film form the first essay. The second essay juxtaposes the correspondence between a classic of European and American cinema Paul Fejos (Pál Fejös) and Eisenstein before the latter’s arrival to Hollywood—and a book inscription made before Eisenstein’s return to the Soviet Union.
Alexander YANAKIEV. Intelligentsia and cinema. Translated by Yuliya Kudryavtseva
The article by our recently deceased Bulgarian colleague examines the points of intersection between Bulgarian intelligentsia of the 1920s-30s and cinema, be they biographical, critical, or ontological.
«…I owe everything to Walt Disney; he gave me that first break in Hollywood». Interview with Carl Stalling by Michael Barrier, Milton Gray, and Bill Spicer. Translated by Tatyana Sapegina
Composer Carl W. Stalling (1891–1972) was to a large extent responsible for the formation of the distinctive style of Hollywood’s “golden age” cartoons. He began his career at Walt Disney’s studio and inspired the creation of “Silly Symphonies”. For more than twenty years afterwards he remained the only composer of the Warner Brothers studio cartoons, such as “Looney Tunes” и “Merry Melodies”. In his only surviving interview Stalling talks at length about his work, paying particular attention to the problem of synchronizing music, voice, and image in early sound animation.
“BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN” TURNS 90 (III)
Naum KLEIMAN. Our daily bread
Mikhail IAMPOLSKI. From picture to image and notion. Historical and philosophical notes on a theoretical problem in Eisenstein
The third part of the anniversary section includes texts by contemporary scholars. Naum Kleiman’s article examines the cultural and theoretical context of the scene with a decorated plate from “Battleship Potemkin” and the image of Discobolus tied to it. The essay by Mikhail Iampolski deals with the connection between political and aesthetic aspects of the formation of an image.
CINEMA: LIFE AND ADVENTURES
Arman CHILINGARYAN. Boris Barnet: from periphery with love
The article talks about the work of the Soviet film classic at the Erevan film studio at the end of the Second World War and is supplemented by the publication of Barnet’s drawings.
Natalija ARLAUSKAITĖ. How “May West” is made
The image of the Hollywood star May West is discussed as a “May West” text, retrospectively appropriated by feminist film theory and certain subcultures (in particular, the gay camp culture). We are able to reread the “May West” complex because of its three main elements of transgression: the gender one, the racial one, and the age-related one. The author describes the article’s slogan as “back to narratology” or “forward to cult value” and traces the main aspect of “May West”, “the kunstkammer of repetition”, which is embodied in various modes of excess.
Anastasia ALESHCHENKO. Close up: its physical and metaphysical nature
The article is based on the author’s bachelor’s thesis at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) and concerns the physical and metaphysical nature of close up in cinema, with face as its example.
CINEMA AND TECHNOLOGY
Maksim KAZYUCHITS. Man, science, and sci-fi in popular science cinema of K.I. Dombrovskiy
The author examines the career of a well-known director of popular science cinema Kirill Dombrovskiy who remained in the history of Russian culture as an engineer, a developer, a director, a scriptwriter, and an author. His most important works Dombrovskiy produced at “Tsentrnauchfil'm”. He experimented with new film systems, made panoramic, wide screen, wide gauge, varioscope/polyframe and cinerama films, and invented new devices.