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Happiness (1934)      The Last Bolshevik (1993)

 


(aka "Happiness" or "Schastye" )

 

directed by Aleksandr Medvedkin
USSR 1934

 

One of the last Soviet silent movies, rediscovered and restored by French cine-chameleon Chris Marker in 1971, Happiness proved an easily accessible counterpoint to the exotic obscurities of The Wishing Tree. For this rare and often hilarious example of socialist slapstick is likewise grounded in the seeming eccentricities of Russian folk culture; but on the less culturally specific dynamics of those hopes and dreams which forever sustain the exploited, and which may or may not flourish after the revolution. Medvedkin's infectiously happy oddity emerged surprisingly from a slough of social-realist orthodoxy, and prompted none other than Eisenstein to the admiring tribute: 'Today I saw how a Bolshevik laughs.'

Excerpt of review from Time Out Film Guide located HERE

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Theatrical Release: March 15th, 1935 (USSR)

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DVD Review: Icarus Films - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution

Icarus Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:03:28
Video

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.62 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Silent (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Icarus Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.37:1

Edition Details:
• Arte Video Trailer
• Short Film: For Your Health (9:27)
• Short Film:Journal Nr. 4 (10:41)
• Short Film: For Your Health (9:27)
• Short Film: How Do You Live, Comrade Miner? (9:20)
• Short Film: The Conveyor Belt (11:23)
• Interview with Medvedkin (17:15)
• Reconstruction of Stop Thief (5:56)
• Reconstruction of Tit, or the Tale of a Big Spoon (16:42)

DVD Release Date: September 2nd, 2008
Keep Case (Two Discs)

Chapters 8

 

Comments

Included in this dual disc set are Aleksandr Medvedkin's mad Soviet masterpiece "Happiness" and Chris Marker's semi-biographical documentary "The Last Boshevik". Both films are stunning achievements, and the wealth of extras make this set a must own form cinephiles. As it turns out, Medvedkin was something of a forgotten genius in experimental and absurdest Russian cinema of his day. Admired by his contemporaries, and even hailed by some as the greatest amongst them, Medvendkin never achieved commercial success and didn't even have a single one of his films shown commercially in cinemas during his lifetime. Despite this, Marker deservedly rescued him from obscurity after stumbling upon his devilishly funny "Happiness". In response, Marker made his documentary that, while ostensibly is about Medvendkin, often veers off into other topics dealing with Soviet history.

Unfortunately, both films in this set suffer from obvious deficiencies. Most notably, both films are interlaced and feature heavy combing throughout. What's more, the damage on "Happiness" is particularly bad with instances of scratches, tears, dust, dirt, missing parts of the frame, and instability verging on being the norm instead of the exception. While this is certainly a problem, I doubt that much could have been done to restore the film at this point, and that we'll never see it looking any better. Marker's film predictably is much cleaner, but even it shows its age with some instances of damage and softness. Both films feature Dolby mono tracks that are competent enough, optional French tracks, and English subtitles. The discs also sport a surprising amount of extras. On the first disc, we five of Medvedkin's short films and reconstructions of two of his lost works. Also included is a lengthy and informative interview with Medvedkin, which we get more of on the second disc.

As I said before, these are truly wonderful films, and we are blessed to have them on DVD. Despite my concerns with the image, I give this set a strong recommendation and consider this to be a must own for anyone interested in Soviet cinema.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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Combing

 


(aka "The Last Bolshevik" )

 

directed by Chris Marker
France/Finland 1993

 

One of the major essays of Chris Marker-which automatically makes this one of the key works of our time-this remarkable 1993 video is provisionally about his friend and mentor, the late Soviet filmmaker Alexander Medvedkin (1900-'89), in the form of six video 'letters' sent to him posthumously. More profoundly, this is about the history of Soviet cinema and the Soviet Union itself, about what it meant to be a communist, about what these things mean now. In the process of redefining these issues, Marker produces a guarded self-portrait and autocritique, implicitly asking himself what his own leftism has meant and continues to mean. Eloquent and mordantly witty in its poetic writing, beautiful and often painterly in its images, this is as moving and as provocative in many respects as Marker's Sans soleil (1982). Not to be missed.

Excerpt of review from Jonathan Rosenbaum located HERE

Theatrical Release: March 25th, 1993 (Finland)

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DVD Review:  - Icarus Films - Region 0 - PAL

Distribution

Icarus Films

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 2:00:28
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Russian, French, and English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Icarus Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Unedited Fragment of Nikolai Izvolov's Interview (6:22)

 

DVD Release Date: September 2nd, 2008
Keep Case (Two Discs)

Chapters 10

 

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 
Combing

 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Icarus Films

Region 1 - NTSC




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