Alexander Rodchenko and Lyubov Popova, "the first designers":
Alexander Rodchenko and Lyubov Popova, "the first designers":
Anthology Film Archives (New York City) seems to be holding something of an Eisenstein festival:
STRIKE / STACHKA
1925, 106 minutes, 35mm, b&w, silent. With Russian intertitles; English synopsis available.
Eisenstein’s interest in the Freudian father complex drives this psychological scenario in which non-actors step forward to acknowledge the viewer, illustrating Eisenstein’s desire to penetrate to the heart of cinema, sidestepping realism by “being real.”
Upcoming Showings: Saturday Jan 31 4:45 PM
BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN / BRONENOSETS POTEMKIN
1925, 74 minutes, 35mm, b&w, silent. With English intertitles.
Eisenstein’s constructivist montage and rigid, super-structured plot share equal weight with a seemingly spontaneous, inflamed emotion.
Upcoming Showings: Saturday Jan 31 8:45 PM, 7:00 PM
OCTOBER / OKTYABR
1928, 143 minutes, 35mm, b&w, silent. With Russian intertitles; English synopsis available.
Eisenstein celebrates the baroque in OCTOBER, as opposed to the Greek classicism of POTEMKIN, disappointing contemporary audience expectations. "Intellectual cinema" starts here.
Upcoming Showings: Sunday Feb 1 7:30 PM
OLD AND NEW
1929, 120 minutes, 35mm, b&w, silent. With Russian intertitles; English synopsis available.
Known also as THE GENERAL LINE, this is one of Eisenstein’s least-known films. With it, he developed and perfected his theories of “mise-en-cadre,” using the montage of characters in the foreground and background to conjure meanings, and “overtonal montage,” bringing silent film to its zenith.
Upcoming Showings: Sunday Feb 1 5:00 PM
This story reminds me of my own office, which is disguised as a laundry room in a *garden* apartment tucked away in the Polish-occupied Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Visitors would come to pretend to buy fruit and leave with pamphlets of dissension to distribute:
Chris Lethem on Marian Schwartz’s "lively" translation of Oblomov (an LM favorite) for Bookforum:
Like all good aristocrats, he has a first-class liberal education and seized in his student years on “the pleasures of lofty thoughts.” But such intoxication faded almost as quickly as it descended: “Serious reading exhausted him. The great thinkers could stir no thirst in him for speculative truth.” Much the same convulsions of ardor and entropy mark Oblomov’s adult life—except entropy now has the upper hand. Absurdly, as his estate succumbs to neglect and declining income, he envisions grand, abstract reforms: “a brand-new plan that conformed to the demands of the era, a plan to organize his estate and administer his peasants.” But since these ideas involve forsaking his dust-filled apartment, Oblomov remains on-site, fretting, sleeping, eating, and sleeping some more.
The last sentence sounds unnervingly like my writing career.
In the heady days of 1992 after Russia's new leader, Boris Yeltsin, declaimed that the secret KGB and Soviet archives should be open to scholars and publishers, Jonathan Brent, the editorial director of Yale University Press, flew to Russia to secure the rights to publish selected material from the archives for YUP's Annals of Communism project. Brent's memoir, Inside the Stalin Archives, according to Martin Walker for the New York Times Book Review, reveals as much about the grim realities of post-Soviet life and bureaucracy as it does about the archives themselves.
Through Yeltsin’s wretched early years of poverty and dislocation in the 1990s and through the sleeker but more menacing times of Putin’s oil-enriched restoration of traditional authority, Yale University Press has published more than a score of important books. It has recently published newly discovered stenographic records of some 30 Politburo meetings in the 1930s and ’40s, and it is working on Stalin’s personal archive.
Brent is among the first to stress that none of this could have been achieved without the brave and honest work of Russian archivists and scholars in the Soviet period and after. He relates one haunting anecdote of a respected and elderly historian who just two years ago published a straightforward study that included the historically true statement that Red Army troops had occupied Lithuania even before Hitler's invasion of 1941. Officially threatened with the loss of his apartment and pension, and retaliation against his daughter’s career if he dared repeat such allegations, he tells Brent: “It is a return to the 1970s. There is nothing to do about it.”
Some lines end with something like a fish hook--a "question mark" refers to a question.
Me? I wonder about five questions. Why Zina's daddy says that his eyes "popped out of his head." They haven't gone anywhere, I say. Why does he say such rubbish? I crept up to the cupboard, sat in front of the mirror, and bulged my eyes out as far as they could go. Woof! My eyes didn't go anywhere--they stayed right in place.
Are there any fox terriers living on the moon? What do they eat? And do they howl at the earth like I sometimes do at the moon? and where do they disappear to when the moon goes out of sight for many days? Micky, Micky! Someday you'll go crazy!
Why do fish swim into an empty net when it's clearly a trap? Since you're not able to live above water, just sit quietly in your pond, I say. I really pity them! In the morning, they blow bubbles up to the surface, and in the evening they're digested in a dark human stomach--or worse! The mean cat takes them away...
Why was Zina's nanny a brunette yesterday, but today her hair looks like golden straw? Zina giggled, but I was frightened and thought, "Well, Micky, thank God you are a dog." Who would marry such a parrot? Black on Tuesday, orange on Wednesday, and on Thursday--blue with green stripes...Foo! It's getting hot in here.
How come, when I act badly, they put a muzzle on me, but when the gardener gets drunk as a mad bull twice a week they do nothing about it? Zina's uncle says that the gardener is shell-shocked, so we must indulge him. By all means! I will learn what shell-shocked means, then I will become shell-shocked, too. Then they'll have to indulge me. I'm going to chomp on a bone (Where did I bury it? I'll never tell!), then I'll write some more.
--From "Micky the Fox Terrier's Diary", a children's story by Sasha Chernyi, translated by me.