Friday, September 07, 2012

Valgus Koordis / Light in Koordi

Свет в Коорди / Kohtaloita kylässä / [Valoa Koordissa] / Öden i en by. EE-SU: Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic 1951. PC: Lenfilm / Tallinna Kinostuudio. P: Herbert Rappaport, Sergei Ivanov, Semjon Malkin. D: Herbert Rappaport. SC: Hans Leberecht, Juri German – based on the novel (1948) by Hans Leberecht. DP: Sergei Ivanov – colour. PD: Semjon Malkin. Set dec: I. Znoinov. Cost: T. Levitskaja. Makeup: V. Sokolov. M: Eugen Kapp, Boris Kõrver. Songs composed by: Boris Kõrver. Lyrics: J. Smuul, A. Gitovitš.  S: Grigori Elbert. ED: D. Lander. Filmi direktor: I. Poljakov. C: Georg Ots (Paul Runge), Aleksander Randviir (Vao), Valentine Tern (Aino), Ilmar Tammur (Muuli), Rudolf Nuude (Maasalu), Olev Tinn (Taaksalu), Elmar Kivilo (Semidor), Evi Rauer (Roosi), Hugo Laur (Saamu), Johannes Kaljola (Priidu), Franz Malmsten (Janson), Lembit Rajala (Kurvest), Arnold Kasuk (Kamar), Ants Eskola (Mänd). Tallinna premiere: 27.8.1951. Helsinki premiere: 26.6.1953 Capitol, distributor: Kosmos-Filmi – VET 36418 – S – Tallinnfilm filmography: 2580 m / 94 min – VET: 2690 m / 98 min. An Eesti Filmiarhiiv print with electronic subtitling in Finnish by Jenni Kavén viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Propaganda in Soviet Estonian Cinema seminar), 7 September 2012. Comments after the movie by the historian Olev Liivik.
    Based on this movie Leo Normet wrote the opera Svet v Koordi (1955).
    The film was also released in a Russian version.

Propaganda as desinformation: Estonian farmers volunteer unanimously to establish a collective farm, the most stubborn sceptics of them having witnessed in the USSR the happiness and abundance brought by the kolkhoz system. In reality the worst operation of totalitarian terror had recently taken place. 20.000 Estonians were deported into Siberia in 1949, and forced collectivization took place in an atmosphere of terror.

Starring the dashing, heroic opera barytone and romantic lead Georg Ots with a proud posture, a winning smile and an aura of irrepressible optimism. The songs include "You Are A Dizzying Country", "There Is No More Beautiful Country Than Our Homeland" (in Russian), "The People At Work" (in Russian), "Should I Become A Kolkhoze Member: Hired Hands Have Become Masters", "Life In A Kolkhoz Is Filled With Joy And Sunshine".

The bog motif: already in the train bringing him back to his homeland after the war has ended in 1945 Georg Ots admires the bog lakes and villages of Estonia. With the resources of the kolhoz it becomes possible to transform bogs into fields.

Valgus Koordis belongs to the genre of the kolkhoz musical as developed by Grigori Alexandrov and Ivan Pyriev. There is a sense of relentless optimism, happiness and forward movement. "We all become masters of the new life". An old blind man is taken to a Soviet hospital where he gets his eyesight back - and the operation is costless. There are rousing montages of harvesting and jubilant song numbers.

Valgus Koordis also repeats familiar motifs from kolkhoz movies such as The Old and the New, The Earth, and The Peasants. There is the tractor which suddenly does not work because of the spark plug. (In The Vow the omniscient Stalin himself fixes the tractor's spark plug problem.) 

In his comments after the movie Olev Liivik introduced the author of the novel on which the movie is based, Hans Leberecht. His novel was translated into 23 languages. - Koordi really exists, 100 km from Tallinn. - Valgus Koordis was seen as "an outstanding example of socialist realism". Actually it belongs to the realm of fiction, utopia, illusion, and dream, and it represents only a very narrow range of reality. - Characteristics of socialist realism included: praising a new life, an ironic attitude to the past, a straightforward motion, a focus on class struggle, and recognizable film characters.

AA: It's hard to believe that the film-makers or the Estonian audiences could have believed in any of this. I have the feeling that the main audience of this movie was Stalin himself. According to Nikita Khrushchev's destalinization speech of 1956 Stalin never visited the Russian countryside, and his prime source of information was Soviet movies such as this. - If I understood Olev Liivik's remarks during the break correctly, the final polishing to Valgus Koordis was made in Moscow after previews.

The visual quality of the print is good, and the colour seems true to the period. Occasionally there is a slightly duped or soft quality perhaps because inferior source have been used.

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