Reviews for May 13th, 2009
Directed by Sergei Loznitsa.
In Russian with subtitles. This fascinating documentary shows what the politics, society, technological advances and culture were like in the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 60s. Often, the black-and-white images speak louder than words, such as archival footage of farmers planting seeds out in the fields, fisherman drilling through ice in hopes of finding fish and workers going about their daily tasks at a steel mill. In other clips, words are just as meaningful as the images, such as when Nikita Khrushchev, General Secretary of the Communist Party, gives a powerful, eloquent speech about Communism in front of a large crowd, or when very young students stand up in class and announce one-by-one what kind of job they want to have when they grow up. You’ll also get to see footage of townspeople singing, lively musical productions with singing and dancing, as well as stage plays which had ideas that served as propaganda back then. Director Sergei Loznitsa, who has previously directed the documentary Blockade, wisely decides once again not to include voice-over narration or any explanatory texts, but rather to allow the amalgamation of different clips which, as a whole, provide a glimpse of what the Soviety Union was like during that time period. Occasionally, he interjects some dryly humorous or amusing moments, such as a young boy being interviewed and, when asked many questions regarding school, he answers simply “Yes” or “No,” but when asked if he likes going to school, he grins ever so slightly, pauses for a while and refrains from answering that question. Or, in another scene, a pig farmer gets into trouble for the simple act of wasting bread by secretly feeding it to her pigs to make them fatter, thereby boosting her business. Ultimately, at a running time of 82 minutes, Revue manages to be a well-edited documentary that’s equally informative and entertaining. Number of times I checked my watch: 0 Released by Icarus Films. Opens at the Anthology Film Archives.