Alexander Medvedkin: The Filmmaker's Companion 2 (The by Emma Widdis

By Emma Widdis

This primary advent to Alexander Medvedkin's filmmaking profession strains his means of constructing a distinct model of cinematic satire in the course of the interval of the Soviet progressive test. utilizing unique archival fabric and Medvedkin's writings for his unfinished autobiography, Widdis explores the movies The Miracle employee, New Moscow and the experimental "film train"--or kinopoezd--as good because the movie Happiness.

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Convinced of the potential of his craft, he sought an alternative project. 2 Medvedkin, son of a railwayman, turned to what he knew. The idea was at once simple and absurdly ambitious: the construction of an entire film studio in a train that could travel across the vast expanses of the Soviet Union, using film as a means not only of recording but also of encouraging the realisation of the Five-Year Plan. ’3 The train would travel across the territory, would film communities – collective farms or provincial factories – in their everyday activities, and then process and show the films immediately, together with ready-made captions such as ‘Comrades, this cannot go on …’ It aimed to encourage better work practices and thereby to aid the fulfilment of the Plan’s The Film-Train 23 targets.

23 Medvedkin was evidently well aware of the impact of the mask as a device; at a meeting in 1930 he stated his intention to exploit its potentially disturbing power in cinematic close-up. Seen here at middle-range and close up, the mask manages to express a double meaning: it is a metaphor of brutality read by the spectator, and at the same time a visualisation of Khmyr’s own, terrified vision of the force that controls his life. Stylisation Medvedkin’s use of exaggeration and caricature was rooted in the folk tradition of the lubok, which he named as the principal influence on his cinematic vision.

And the camera proceeds to explore the everyday life of the miners themselves. The answer, we discover, is not a happy one. The film juxtaposes the reality of living conditions with the ideals of Soviet construction, revealing the truth behind state rhetoric. ‘There’s no obvious “culture officer” in the hostels,’ it remarks ironically, demonstrating the failure of state ideals to spread ‘culture’ and ‘civilised behaviour’ (kul’turnost’) across all sections of the population. Forlorn trees mark the failure to meet the state’s suggestion that ‘greenery’ should embellish living quarters – an ironic jibe at much-publicised ‘socialist’ intentions to create a Utopian space of leisure for the new proletariat.

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