Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sampling Slesar i kantsler / Locksmith and Chancelor

Domenica 30 giugno 2013,10.15: SLESAR' I KANCLER / KLJUČI SČAST’JA / PLEBEJ
Due to the long reel change breaks in Silver Lode my plans to see the fragments of Klyuchi schastja / The Keys of Happiness and Plebej / [Miss Julie] crashed, and I missed also most of Locksmith and Chancelor.

Слесарь и канцлер / Locksmith and Chancelor / Il fabbro e il Primo Ministro / Kancler i slesar'. SU 1923. D: Vladimir Gardin. Co-D: Ol'ga Preobraženskaja. Sog.: ispirato alla pièce Kancler i slesar' di Anatolij Lunačarskij. SC: Vladimir Gardin, Vsevolod Pudovkin. DP: Evgenij Slavinskij. AD: Vladimir Egorov. C: Ivan Chudoleev (imperatore di Nordlandia), Nikolaj Panov (il cancelliere von Turau), Nina Tairova (sua moglie), Vladimir Gardin (commendatore Hammer), Vladimir Maksimov (avvocato Frank Frei), Zoja Barancevič (contessa Mitsi), Iona Talanov (Berenberg, aiutante maggiore), Nikolaj Sal'tykov (Franz Stark, il fabbro), Liana Iskrickaja-Gardina (Anna), Oleg Frelich (Leo von Turau, figlio del cancelliere), Ivan Kapralov (Robert, suo fratello), Vera Valickaja (Lora, sua moglie), Ol'ga Bystrickaja (Anna, amante di Leo), Semenov (Netli, segretario del cancelliere), Ol'ga Preobraženskaja. P: VUFKU (Jalta e Odessa). Premiere: 12 luglio 1924. 35 mm. 1140 m (incompleto). 50' a 20 f/s. B&w. Da: Gosfilmofond. Accompagnamento al piano di Antonio Coppola. Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 30 June 2013.

"Lunacarskij's play The Locksmith and the Chancellor, a success in the theater, was set in two imaginary lands, Nordlandia and Galikania, but the subtext offered references to German revolutionary rumblings taking place in November of 1918. The co-writers of the screenplay on which the film was based, Gardin and Pudovkin, took their inspiration however from the Russian revolution of February 1917, and transformed one of the protagonists - the demagogue lawyer Frank Frei - into a parody of Kerenskij. Nominated Minister of Labor after the Chancellor of Nordlandia, von Turau, has lost both his children, his sight and his position of power, the socialist Frei ends up betraying the proletariat and is mixed up in orgies and wild parties. After the emperor and the representatives of the old order step in to lay down the law, he is banished into exile and the blacksmith Franz Stark is named the People's Commissioner. The playwright was happy with the screenplay adaptation, but apparently the two screenwriters were not entirely in harmony: Pudovkin refused to work alongside Gardin in the direction and went to work as an assistant to Kulešov. One might suppose that, as a more modern thinker, he did not find the combination of archaism and innovation found in The Locksmith and the Chancellor to his liking. Stylistically, the film is more similar to the later melodramas of pre-revolutionary Russian cinema (ornate interiors, heavy makeup, double exposures), while at the same time showing elements of the Soviet revolutionary cinema of the 1920s, with its influences of American adventure films. The Locksmith and the Chancellor was panned by "Pravda" for aesthetic rather than ideological reasons: having to live up to the original successful play at the Korš Theater was a burden on the film version, and the harsh review criticized the confused plot, and slammed the work of the director of photography and the art director as lacking any clear genre: the amateurish "American-style tricks" are "neither fish nor fowl". The socialist Frei, played by Maksimov, is blatantly stood in for in the parade scene (following the revolution) by another actor who doesn't resemble him in the least; at one moment in the film a cement bridge is blown up (which was shot in the Crimea) but the bridge that subsequently collapses is an iron construction, footage that was obviously lifted from an American crime film... The actors were also criticized, and perhaps that was the bitterest pill to swallow: among them were students from Gardin's school, who then moved to Preobraženskaja's studio. The credit attributed to Preobraženskaja in the direction likely had to do with her work with the young actors. Today, the erratic style of the film and the apparent lack of any clear genre are not seen as defects per se as much as an interesting peculiarity of its cinematic language. The first and sixth parts of the film have not been restored." Natal'ja Nusinova

I came in the middle of this film and could only state that the crowd scenes seemed impressive, but it was too late to make sense of the film.

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