Opinion

Soviet Celluloid Treasures on YouTube

If you’ve studied the history of cinema than you’ve heard of Mosfilm, the renowned film studio that is reputedly the largest and oldest in Europe.

Established in 1923, Mosfilm has been responsible for countless cinematic masterpieces, including many of the films created by masters Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Now, the film studio has placed dozens of historic flicks on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. They are captioned in English, though the titles are in Cyrillic (ahem, Google Translate).

Below is the classic Soviet sci-fi film Solaris (1972). Directed by Tarkovsky, this is one of the greatest sci-fi films of the 20th C. and, yes, please do your best to forget about that crappy remake by Steven Soderbergh in 2002 starring George Clooney.

In the original, don’t expect awesome special effects but meditative psychological drama. Yes, it’s a little slow but very beautiful.

One of the special treats for art lovers is that Solaris is filled with art historical references, but I’ll let Wikipedia explain [emphasis mine]:

The Solaris soundtrack features the chorale prelude for organ, Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ(BWV 639), by Johann Sebastian Bach, and an electronic score by Eduard Artemyev, and the set design features paintings by the Old Masters. The interior of the space station is decorated with full reproductions of the 1565 painting cycle of The Months (The Hunters in the SnowThe Gloomy DayThe Hay HarvestThe Harvesters, and The Return of the Herd), by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and details of Landscape with the Fall of Icarus and The Hunters in the Snow (1565). The scenes of Kelvin kneeling before his father, and the father embracing him allude to The Return of the Prodigal Son (1669), by Rembrandt. The references and allusions are Tarkovsky’s efforts to give the young art of cinema an historic perspective of centuries, to evoke the viewer’s feeling that cinema is a mature art.

If you want to explore some other Mosfilm works, may I suggest Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (1962) or Volga-Volga (1925), a Soviet comedy.

According to WSJ, which reported today about the film giant’s online move, 50 titles are currently available and the studio plans to upload five more each week.

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