Ukrainian Institute London, National Olexander Dovzhenko Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London will be screening this film as part of a “Olexander Dovzhenko’s Silent Trilogy: Life and Death at the Times of the Revolution.” The trilogy is part of the Ukrainian Institute’s series, “The Century of Ukrainian Revolutions: 1917-2017.”All-Ukrainian Photo-Cinema Directorate (VUFKU), 1930
Directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko
Written by Oleksandr Dovzhenko
Cinematography by Danylo Demutskyi
Music by DakhaBrakha
Design by Vasyl Krychevskii Jr.
Starring Stepan Shkurat, Semen Svashenko, Yulia Solntseva, Olena Maksymova
SYNOPSIS: “Its title, Earth, is more than just a name – it is a religion,” said Siegfried Krakauer. And “Earth”, the final part of Dovzhenko’s silent trilogy, is undoubtedly the most famous and controversial movie of the Ukrainian (and along with Battleship Potemkin) Soviet silent cinema heritage. Full of lyrical pantheism and utopian exaltation, it demonstrated the ambiguity of Ukrainian geopolitical choice in the late 1920s.
The simple plot tells the story of a small Ukrainian village on the eve of collectivization. Vasyl, a leader of activists’ youth, is trying to engage villagers into the collective farm movement, while waiting for a technical miracle – a tractor, a forerunner of the new era. Finally, risking his life, he ploughs a boundary path separating the private plots from the collective ones. This enthusiasm costs Vasyl his life, yet makes him a martyr, a necessary sacrifice for the new social order.
Even as it fits in with Soviet propaganda films, Dovzhenko’s interest in human condition and its bond with nature take it beyond the propaganda realm. As told by Dovzhenko, an ordinary tale of a class struggle becomes a universal philosophical parable about life and death.
Criticized severely for its “naturalism” and “physiologism,” the film was banned nine days after its release in the Soviet Union and was given a credit in Ukraine only after Dovzhenko’s death. “Earth” hit the headlines only in 1958 when the International Referendum in Brussels praised the film as one of the best 12 films in the history of cinema. It was voted to be one of the top ten silent films by “The Guardian” and “The Observer” film critics.
PROGRAM: This screening will be followed by a panel discussion looking into the complex identity and artistic legacy of Oleksandr Dovzhenko. Speakers will explore the dualistic nature of Dovzhenko’s most famous avant-gardist trilogy, in which the director embraces revolution and new socialist order but stands accused of nationalism and decadence.
The panel will feature Rory Finnin, Head, Department of Slavonic Studies, Director, Ukrainian Studies programme, Cambridge University and Philip Cavendish, Reader in Russian and Soviet Film Studies, School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, UCL, London. It will be moderated by Marina Pesenti, Director of the Ukrainian Institute London.
MUSIC: DakhaBrakha — is world-music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine. Reflecting fundamental elements of sound and soul, Ukrainian «ethnic chaos» band DakhaBrakha, create a world of unexpected new music. Accompanied by Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian traditional instrumentation, the quartet’s astonishingly powerful and uncompromising vocal range creates a trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture. DakhaBrakha has played concerts and performances in dozens of countries.