Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mad Love - The Films of Evgeni Bauer|
Actors: Vera Chernova, A. Ugrjumov, V. Demert, V. Brianski, Vera Karalli
Director: Yevgeni Bauer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics
For many decades, Evgeni Bauer?s films were buried in the Soviet archives ? declared too "cosmopolitan" and bizarre for the puritanical Soviet regime. But with the fall of the Iron Curtain, Bauer?s work has risen like a gl... more »
"The Greatest Film Director You Have Never Heard Of."
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 12/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Any discussion of silent film in Russia centers around the dawn of the Soviet era and its three great directors Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, and Pudovkin. Yet before World War I and the Russian Revolution there existed a flourishing film industry that is all but forgotten today. Among the people working at that time was one Evgeni Bauer (the first name has several different spellings) whose films I was totally unfamiliar with. His career lasted only four years (he died in 1917 at the age of 52) but if the three films on this DVD are any indication of his other works then he certainly deserves the title "the greatest film director you have never heard of" given to him on the liner notes of this offering from Milestone Films. The most astonishing thing about these movies is how sophisticated their lighting and camerawork are. They are easily the equal of anything being done in Italy, France, or by D.W. Griffith at the time. Also noteworthy are the stories themselves which deal with psychological issues rarely found in films of this vintage.
Two of the three films feature Bolshoi ballerina Vera Karalli whose face is as expressive as her body. Her performance of the title piece in THE DYING SWAN from 1916 gives us a glimpse of what it would have been like to see Anna Pavlova dance. This story of a mute ballerina and an artist obsessed with death is the longest and most potent of the three thanks to its striking visual imagery. TWILIGHT OF A WOMAN'S SOUL (1913), the earliest of the films on the DVD, features a remarkably frank outlook on the plight of a woman who is abandoned by her husband after he discovers that she has been raped. Certain images from this film seem to foreshadow scenes in THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI. The second feature AFTER DEATH (1915) deals with the effects of a woman's suicide on a sensitive young man. Parts of it resemble the cinematic landscape of early Kurosawa. All three films have been restored from Russian archival prints and are in excellent shape considering their age and feature newly composed scores which are highly effective. There is also a brief documentary on what to look for in Bauer's works from Russian film scholar Yuri Tsivian. A major discovery for silent film enthusiasts and a real eye opener for movie buffs as well. While MAD LOVE is the title given to this collection of films, it could have been subtitled "The Russian Revelation"."
Classical in every sense!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These three wonderful short films (about 45 minutes each) from the years 1913-16 are like classical literature expressed visually, with the morbid heaviness of Edgar Allan Poe combined with 'highbrow' culture of Russia just before the Russian Revolution. They are sad and haunting stories beautifully and elegantly presented by director, Evgeni Bauer, who uses various techniques to create a mood, and to express or underline an idea or emotion. Of the few intertitles, many read like classic literature or prose, leaving you with a thought to contemplate in just a few words. Like such good literature with emotional and psychological themes, it is worth the effort to focus and be immersed in the story. Beautiful classical music on piano and strings fit the images and moods perfectly, and the overall picture quality is very good. The principle actors perform gracefully and emotively, adding to the overall classical feeling. I also found these films to be a fascinating glimpse back in time to this era of Russian history.
Among the special features on this DVD is a documentary explaining some of the techniques used by Evgeni Bauer which heighten one's appreciation for the films. It's probably a good idea to watch this documentary afterwards, when familiar with the three films, and then to watch them again later with the deeper insights gained from this documentary. Overall, a beautiful and classic package from The Milestone Collection well worth having!"
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 10/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This disc showcases three of the films made by the prolific and influential Russian director Yevgeniy Frantsevich Bauer, who sadly passed away in 1917 at a relatively young age. The first film, 'Twilight of a Woman's Soul' (1913), seems the weakest of the trio, although one shouldn't expect a huge amount from something that was made when the feature-length film was in its infancy. None of these films are even an hour long. In this film in particular, Vera, a young woman who wants to use her high social class to do some good with the less fortunate, is lured into the attic of a man whom she innocently assumes had good intentions. Instead of wanting the food she was bringing him, he rapes her and she kills him. When she gets married shortly after this incident, she initially keeps mum, but eventually confesses to her husband, whose reaction isn't exactly the most enlightened and understanding. Perhaps the weakness of this film isn't the short length or even the fact that features were in their infancy, but rather because, given the era, a lot of the most important events could only be vaguely hinted at instead of portrayed in a more direct way. For example, the rape could have been made more immediately obvious without being as graphic as such a scene would be today.
'The Dying Swan' (1916) was my favorite of the trio. The beautiful Gizella (Vera Karalli) is a mute who is betrayed by Viktor, the man she believed loved her. After she discovers him with another woman, she runs away and, together with her doting father, leaves the city and eventually finds huge success as a ballet dancer. While performing one night, she is seen by the artist Glinskiy, who feels that this sad dancer may be the perfect model for his dream painting. Glinskiy is a very macabre figure who is obsessed with death and dying, having many of the same obsessions that Bauer himself did. Things get more complicated when Viktor comes back into Vera's life.
'After Death' (1915) is a compelling psychological drama based on 'Clara Milich,' the last story ever written by Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, and actually stays closer to the storyline that you'd expect from a movie based on a book or short story. Andrey lives with his aunt, and doesn't really get out much, so obsessed is he with his dead mother and his studies. One night his friend Tsenin succeeds in taking him out to the theatre, where he becomes enraptured by one of the performers, Zoya Kadmina (also played by Vera Karalli). Zoya is even more taken with him, and sends him a note asking him to meet her at a specific time and place. However, he rejects her love at their brief meeting, and she goes away very depressed. Three months later Andrey learns of her death, which is believed to be a suicide. Andrey feels himself to blame, and becomes obsessed with her, trying to learn everything he can about her by visiting and talking with her relatives and former co-workers at the theatre, and even constantly dreaming about her and seeing haunting visions of her.
Also included are brief commentaries on selected portions of the three films, together with a stills gallery. The gallery features stills from numerous other films Bauer directed in addition to just the three presented here. The soundtracks for the films are also top-notch gorgeous. As a lover of early cinema and all things Russian, I'd love to see more of Yevgeniy Frantsevich's films released. He really was an innovative director, setting the stage for the later great Soviet directors such as Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Barnets."
Luminoso | Austin, TX USA | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even if you're not a fan of the silent movie acting style, this marvelous dvd containing three of Evgeni Bauer's films is a visual feast! Aside from their sheer beauty and historical value, these films are a window into Bauer's ability to tell stories and develop characters using tracking shots and angles some contemporary filmmakers have yet to discover. The layering and depth of field Bauer achieves in some scenes without the apparent use of matte painting is simply amazing.
Initially, the stories may seem a bit melodramatic but themes like spurned love ("Twilight of a Woman's Soul") and attachment so obsessive the ghostly stalk our waking dreams ("After Death") never seem to go out of style. The third film, "The Dying Swan" (a special treat for fans of the Bolshoi ballerina Vera Karalli), isn't too far removed from the Quay Brothers' "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes", "Combat d'amour en songe" or even "The Phantom of the Opera."
If you love film just for its own sake, don't miss "Mad Love"!