With Adam Curtis’s ordeal-montage Russia 1985-1999: TraumaZone inactive streaming connected BBC iPlayer, and each of america goggling astatine his bonzer mosaic of TV quality clips astir the day-to-day agony of post-Soviet Russia successful intelligence freefall, present is possibly the clip to acquisition that work’s polar opposite.
This 1967 film, made to observe the 50th day of the October revolution, is an archival classical from the Latvian manager Uldis Brauns and screenwriter Herz Frank: an amazingly audacious effort astatine documenting the mean lives to beryllium seen each crossed the immense Eurasian landmass of the Soviet Union, whose colonisation was past 235 million. (The equivalent full fig for the ex-Soviet states present is astir 297 million.) This movie is ideological of course, celebrating everyone’s harmonious coexistence nether communism, but notably without immoderate shrill stridency, and with a distinctly pro-western, pro-American attitude.
Brauns was a disciple of Dziga Vertov, whose 1926 travelogue movie A Sixth Part of the World is intelligibly an inspiration, but truthful besides evidently was the immense photographic bid The Family of Man by the American creator and curator Edward Steichen, which Brauns asked his squad to look at. Brauns and his camera crews ranged acold and wide crossed the USSR, shrewdly and humorously capturing vignettes large and small. There is astir nary of the accepted Soviet piety astir enactment and concern productivity: this is mostly astir radical relaxing astatine weddings, assemblage gatherings, determination are crowds astatine an creation accumulation (where Tolstoy’s representation frowns down), couples kissing, a mates going buying for pram (cause and effect?) and families going to the beach, wherever youngsters bash the twist and the chopper seen supra them seems to beryllium doing the twist arsenic well.
The thoroughfare scenes person a benignant of New Age grooviness to them and the philharmonic accompaniment is simply a precise non-Soviet jazz; the film’s azygous astir startling country shows a young Soviet miss with a precise bully American accent singing and scatting her mode done the Ella Fitzgerald jazz modular You’ll Have To Swing It (Mr Paganini). That’s existent détente.
There are subject displays and subject manoeuvres, and a wide skydiving exercise, successful the people of which Brauns gives america a staggering midair changeable of skydivers falling down towards his upturned camera, the relation seemingly strapped to 1 of the skydivers. But the astir fervent subject series shows mothers and girlfriends sobbing arsenic their menfolk spell distant for subject service. There is besides footage of the yearly enactment legislature successful Moscow, with shots of Khrushchev and Brezhnev (this was released lone a mates of years aft Brezhnev had really ousted Khrushchev arsenic First Secretary of the party). But actually, we are not shown overmuch of the solemn proceedings, but alternatively the delegates successful hilarious speech successful the lobby outside; the full lawsuit looks much similar thing astatine the United Nations.
Most importantly of all, the movie picks retired faces: immoderate is happening, the enactment tin usually beryllium relied connected to dilatory to a standstill to linger connected someone’s face. This is adjacent true, paradoxically, erstwhile a young pistillate turns her look distant from the camera to sob, distraught astatine her fellow going distant to bash his nationalist service. It’s a vivid representation of the age.