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Cinema According to Víctor Erice

Sunday, July 12, 2015
6:15 p.m. Earth
Alexander Dovzhenko (USSR, 1930)

Live Music / Judith Rosenberg on piano


Earth is the masterpiece of the great Ukrainian director Dovzhenko; it is also his most experimental film. There seems to be a mad logic to its imagery, like the mad dance of its hero, Vasili, down the moonlit road to his death. Yet each startling image is precisely linked to the others, much as the peasants are linked through their shared passions, miseries, and mysteries. This is how Dovzhenko tells a story—a rather simple one of Ukrainian villagers coming to terms with collective farming against the brutal resistance of the kulaks and the more subtle resistance of tradition. The familiar catalog of earthly symbols here reaches an apotheosis, a daring poetry in the treatment of people and animals alike. A horse is made to "talk"; a grieving young widow wails, naked, totally exposed; the cycle of death in life is expressed in a serene surrealism.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Dovzhenko. Photographed by Danylo Demutsky. With Semyon Svashenko, Stepan Shkurat, Julia Solntseva. (81 mins, Silent with English intertitles, B&W, 35mm@18fps, BAM/PFA Collection)