Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Outskirts / The Girl with the Hatbox|
Actors: Anna Sten, Vladimir Mikhajlov, Vladimir Fogel, Ivan Koval-Samborsky, Serafima Birman
Director: Boris Barnet
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Two Russian Classics by Boris Barnet! Out of U.S. distribution for decades, Outskirts is an internationally renowned masterpiece of early sound cinema. In a remote Russian village during World War I, colorful and nuanced c... more »
Eye-opening comedies from the USSR
Michael Gebert | Chicago, IL USA | 06/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I write this the DVD is not out yet, but I have seen both films theatrically and am confident that preservationist David Shepard will bring them to DVD in fine form. Shepard has brought out several releases which would change anyone's preconception of heavyhanded, doctrinaire Soviet cinema, and this pair ranks with the remarkable comedy Bed and Sofa (also highly recommended) and establishes the little-known-outside-Russia Barnet as sort of the Billy Wilder of Soviet cinema, a cynical yet warm and funny observer of society and character with a great eye for the telling comic detail. Outskirts is an early talkie comedy, and the rougher but also the more adventurous of the two, a series of quick sketches of life in some nowhere burg as World War I breaks out a long ways away. Officially, it's set before the Revolution, and thus the cynical attitudes on display are directed at the old regime, but it's hard not to see it as a plea from the Russian peasantry for the outside world (ie Moscow and the Party) to stop messing with their lives and just let them live and let live. The Girl With a Hatbox is a late silent and a much more fluid, absolutely delightful romantic comedy starring the much-maligned Anna Sten (victim of an unfortunate attempt by Sam Goldwyn to turn her into the next Garbo; he turned her into a Pia Zadora-like punchline instead, but as this film proves, in her native language she's quite charming and lovely)."
"Outskirts" is a must-see
Burritoman "USA" | Pennsylvania | 02/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Outskirts", from great Soviet director Boris Barnet, is a strange little film - it drifts along amiably for the first half, then radically changes direction twice. It is also a mishmash of genres, going from comedy to drama to neorealism to propaganda, and never really defines itself. However, all of the above doesn't add up to a lousy or incomprehensible movie; quite the opposite. "Outskirts" is a great film, one of the very best from the early Russian sound era (around 1932-1939) and likely one of the top 50 Russian films of all time. I wish I could explain the movie more clearly, but take my word for it. And if you do buy this dvd, you'll understand everything I've tried to say. Highly recommended classic.
"The Girl With The Hatbox" is an earlier silent film also from director Boris Barnet. Not bad at all, and entertaining, but not anything very remarkable. In fact, the most memorable aspect of this comedy is how the USSR seems to be pushing a slightly capitalist angle, what with the main storyline having to do with a winning lottery ticket.
Buy this dvd if you are a fan of early Soviet cinema or silent cinema. Of course "Outskirts" isn't silent, but the overall effect is that of a silent."
A nice double bill of early Russian films
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 07/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These two Russian classics - an early sound film from 1933 and a silent comedy from 1927 - both seem to move along at an easy, slow pace, almost as if nothing is happening, yet there is still a lot going on, mainly visually. My first impressions were that both films are pleasant and interesting to watch, even if there are no particularly intriguing plots, fascinating characters or exciting action scenes. Director Boris Barnet obviously had a good sense of telling a story with images, characters and editing so that the end result is a smooth-flowing film that gives the viewer insight into early Russian cinema and what kind of films the public enjoyed in the 1920s and early 30s. "Outskirts" reminded me somewhat of the silent Soviet classic, "Earth", while the more light-hearted silent "The Girl with the Hatbox" reminded me of my favourite Soviet silent comedy, "Chess Fever". The humour is different from American, but still easy enough for everyone to understand and smile at. Soviet cinema had developed its own unique style in the 1920s, and both these films capture some of those elements which have made early Russian films famous.
"Outskirts" captures the atmosphere and lives of people living in a remote region of Russia during World War I, and I found the aspect of German prisoners of war sent there particularly interesting and unusual. Picture and sound quality are very good, and the English subtitles are easy to read. The silent comedy was restored in 1968 and has a soundtrack from that time which is not too bad; however some of the subtitles are difficult to read at times. This does not detract from the overall feeling of the film, which - like "Outskirts" is somehow a little sad, a little ironic and generally a good mix of all the elements that make for good viewing. Overall, these two Russian classics might not be to everyone's taste, but I would definitely recommend them to anyone interested in early Soviet cinema, and perhaps to anyone curious to see what the Russians were doing in the late 20s and early 30s.