dvd


ZVENYHORA

/ THE ENCHANTED PLACE

1927

Restored version + new soundtrack (FUTUREthno, Ukraine/Poland).

Running time: 97 min.


 ARSENAL 

/ THE JANUARY UPRISING IN KYIV 

1928 

Restored version + new soundtrack (Yuriy Kuznetsov, Ukraine). 

Running time: 93 min.


EARTH 

1930 

Restored version + new soundtrack (DakhaBrakha, Ukraine). 

Running time: 79 min.

TV-format: 6:4 PAL

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0


PRESENTATION OF OLEKSANDR DOVZHENKO TRILOGY

 

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DOVZHENKO. TRILOGY

 

Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s Zvenyhora-Arsenal-Earth DVD-trilogy is a compilation of the director’s most well-known films. Traditionally for the Centre’s products, each film was given a modern soundtrack. The Centre had the cover design for these restored silent masterpieces of Dovzhenko, with soundtracks from FUTUREthno, Yuriy Kuznetsov and DakhaBrakha, made by Belarusian graphic designer Vasilisa Palyanina-Kalenda, who managed to express Dovzhenko’s lyrically magical view of the world through anthropomorphic images.

 

ZVENYHORA / THE ENCHANTED PLACE (1927)

VUFKU (Odessa)

97 min.

Directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko

Screenplay by Mike Johansen, Yuriy Tiutiunnyk, Oleksandr Dovzhenko

Cinematography Borys Zavelyev

Production Design Vasyl Krychevskyi

Starring Semen Svashenko, Mykola Nademskyi, Heorhiy Astafyev, Les Podorozhniy, Volodymyr Uralskyi.

Premiered April 13, 1928 (Kyiv), May 8, 1928 (Moscow)

Soundtrack by FUTUREthno

 

The first film in Dovzhenko’s silent trilogy, which brought him the reputation of a leading Ukrainian film director, ignited a fierce debate about the national cinema.

Through centuries, a gray-haired old man guards bloodstained Scythian treasures of Zvenyhora. Before his eyes, as if in a dream, one historical period follows another – from the arrival of the Varangians and the haidamak movement through to the First World War and the October Revolution. A “gold rush” creates fantastic visions in the heads of treasure hunters and possesses the old man’s elder grandson Pavlo. His younger grandson Tymish trades his grandfather’s archaic world of nature to “rabfak” (remedial school for workers) and industrialization. The brothers meet on the enchanted mountain for a final battle.

The magic tricks of early silent films, the gloomy mysticism of German films of the 1920s, Chaplin-like irony, avant-garde editing – in a unique way Dovzhenko combined all of it in his lyrical epic movie.

 

When lights went on, we all felt that we had just witnessed a memorable event in the development of the cinema. Before us stood a man who had created something new in cinematography… Sergey Eisenstein


FUTUREthno is a Ukrainian-Polish band playing “ethnic music of the future”. That's what the band’s name stands for. The guys interpret folk themes with the language of jazz and modern electronic music. The founder, a Ukrainian Roman Bardun (piano), studied in the Jazz Department of Frederic Chopin Music School in Poland, where he met the other members of the group: Philip Shymanyak (violin), Lucas Ovchynnikov (double bass), Dominic Yaske (percussions) and DJ Krime, one the best-known Polish DJs.

 

ARSENAL / THE JANUARY UPRISING IN KYIV (1928)

VUFKU (Одеса)

93 min.

Directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko

Screenplay by Oleksandr Dovzhenko

Cinematography Danylo Demutskyi

Production Design Volodymyr Muller, Yosyp Shpinel

Starring Semen Svashenko, Amvrosiy Buchma, Dmytro Erdman, Serhiy Petrov, Mykola Kuchynskyi, Mykola Nademskyi.

Premiered February 25, 1929 (Kyiv), March 26, 1929 (Moscow)

Soundtrack by Yuriy Kuznetsov

 

The most complex of the three films in Dovzhenko’s silent trilogy in terms of its form, Arsenal made the director famous not only in the Soviet Union, but also in Western Europe and North America. Ultimately, the National Society of American Film Critics named Arsenal one of the five best films of 1929, along with Karl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Thematically, the film is close to Zvenyhora: Dovzhenko’s focus is once again on the revolution and civil war in Ukraine, particularly the events that took place at the end of World War I, resulting in an unsuccessful Bolshevik uprising in January 1918 in Kiev. In Soviet mythology, the uprising at Arsenal is one of the key episodes in the tale of Bolshevik martyrdom in Ukraine. However, it should be remembered that it were not as much the people of Kyiv who revolted against the Central Council as Russian workers instigated by Bolsheviks, who were competing for power in Ukraine.

Dovzhenko, enthusiastic about the ideas of national liberation and social revolution, took the events of the uprising to the narrative’s marginalia, creating in the end a program political film for Ukrainian intelligentsia on both sides of the barricades of the civil war.

Vague portrayal of the opposing forces of the uprising and parallel editing of different events leave the viewer alone with a sense of the chaos of war rather than with a clear political message or a forced interpretation. At the same time, the eccentric acting style of the cast, expressive possibilities of the lighting, shooting and editing enable the director to bring intimate stories of individual characters into a broader historical canvas and to formulate a clear pacifist message.

 

From the point of the usual understanding of a subject, a plot, et cetera, Arsenal does not fit into a satisfactory definition. The film goes far beyond this terminology – it is deeper and more meaningful than the latter. Yakiv Savchenko


Yuriy Kuznetsov is a well-known Ukrainian jazz pianist, composer, teacher and music producer, since 2011 has been Artistic Director of Odessa JazzFest. His repertoire features classical, experimental and avant-garde jazz. As a virtuoso improviser, he has performed with many of the world’s prominent jazz musicians. According to surveys of critics, he was one of the elite Soviet pianists in the 1980s. Composed scores for numerous films, including the soundtrack written in co-operation with Vladimir Chekasin for the film Taxi Blues, which received two awards at Cannes in 1990. In 1999, Paul McCartney personally handed the musician a prize for his performance of Yesterday at One-Song International Festival in Estonia.

 

EARTH (1930)

VUFKU (Kyiv)

79 min.

Directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko

Screenplay by Oleksandr Dovzhenko

Cinematography Danylo Demutskyi

Production Design Vasyl Krychevskyi (Jr.)

Starring Semen Svashenko, Stepan Shkurat, Yulia Solntseva, Yelena Maksimova, Vladimir Mikhailov, Mykola Nademskyi, Petro Masokha.

Premiered April 8, 1930 (Kyiv)

Soundtrack by DakhaBrakha

 

Earth, which to this day is considered one of the best Ukrainian films, was supposed to be the first Ukrainian sound film. In Earth, Dovzhenko returns to a more conventional narrative form. Moreover, this is his first film on a modern, not historical, subject. Exuberant nature, noble faces of peasants, full-blooded and human-like animals – the director strives to bring into this pantheistic world agricultural machinery and the new order, without disturbing the natural status quo. Dovzhenko could not possibly foresee that collectivization would turn into a tragedy for the Ukrainian people and would start the flywheel of Holodomor as a reaction to civil disobedience. In Earth, Dovzhenko speaks the language of pagan rites – here, the arrival of the new always comes with the demise of the old.

The simple plot of Earth tells a story of a Ukrainian village and a political fight for the introduction of collective farms in the 1920s. A young Communist Vasyl, aided by the local Party organization, gets a tractor and re-ploughs private boundaries “on kulaks’ fields ...” This enthusiasm cost him his life, yet made Vasyl a martyr, a necessary sacrifice for the new social order.

The Soviet press severely criticized the film for its “naturalism” and “physiologism”. After all, instead of glorifying collectivization, Dovzhenko advocates its political significance. The director himself admitted that he was not interested in the story per se. As a result, Earth best demonstrates Dovzhenko’s interest to human existence, which explains why the film became successful all over the world. Told by Dovzhenko, a usual story of a class struggle becomes a universal philosophical parable about life and death.

 

The film combines two trends: political and religious. Politically, it supports the current work on the construction of the state and, for benifit of collectivization, earnestly campaigns against the kulaks. I think it uses improper means to do that. ... Its title, Earth, is more than just a name – it is a religion ... Siegfried Krakauer


DakhaBrakha is a Ukrainian experimental “ethno-chaos” group working in the domain of world music. Created by Vladyslav Troitskyi as part of DAH Theater, it later became an independent project. The extravagant quartet puts authentic folk findings to rhythm, mixing them with electronic music and experimenting with vocals. The musicians come on stage wearing high fur hats and stylized folk attire, sometimes wedding clothes. The members of this multi-instrumental band – Marco Halanevych, Irina Kovalenko, Olena Tsybulska, Nina Harenetska – have been living out of suitcases for the past year. They have travelled with concerts over most of Europe, have been on a month-long tour of America, even got as far as Korea and Australia, not to mention sold out performances at festivals in Ukraine.

 

PRESENTATION OF OLEKSANDR DOVZHENKO TRILOGY

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