Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Semyon Svashenko, Amvrosi Buchma, Georgi Khorkov, Dmitri Erdman, Sergei Petrov
Director: Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
This avant-garde masterpiece from renowned Ukranian director Alexander Dovzhenko employs the most complex and elliptical montage style of any Soviet masters in this treatment of events from the Ukranian Civil War. Based on... more »
Matthew Guerrieri | Somerville, MA USA | 11/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm sure there's plenty of people who would normally pass on this movie, for two reasons:1) It's silent.2) It's Soviet propaganda.See it anyway. Dovzhenko's visual style is bracing, showing an astounding range of black-and-white palettes, from dusty grays to hard-edged chiaroscuro effects. His editing is even more audacious than that of his countryman, Eisenstein; parallel narratives, extended atmospheric montages, long, tense scenes suddenly bursting into flash cuts of near-subliminal effect.Yes, the narrative line is somewhat confusing, with juxtapositions of abstract battle scenes, flurries of political agitation, allgorical action, and stark, fable-like tableaux. But keeping in mind that Dovzhenko is trying to capture the transition of an entire country from war to chaos to corruption and back to war again actually can help wean the viewer off of the need for a linear story. Unlike a lot of standard movie fare, "Arsenal" actually makes more sense the more you think about it: the dream-like structure gives the movie a marvelous retrospective clarity.And, yes, the movie is propaganda, but it is far less didactic than most other examples, not to mention leavened with instances of black humor that give the film a curiously independent, humanistic streak. (There was only one scene that made me wince in light of later Soviet history.) In the end, Dovzhenko seems less interested in winning converts to his cause than in simply giving the viewer a chance to experience what it's like to be in the middle of epochal change. It's also a movie that at times is positively giddy at the possibilities of the medium. A real breath of fresh air, even now."
Still tremendously powerful after 80 years
Jeremy D. Weinstein | Walnut Creek, CA USA | 01/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is remarkable and enjoyable. It's silent and from a different era, so some of the story elements are portrayed with a heavy hand, but the visuals remain powerful and unique. The director draws characters just from their faces, and powerful action simply from standing still. The plot is linear enough for this kind of art- if you like powerful artistic expression, you'll like this film."