A five-person team of gold prospectors in the Yukon has just begun to enjoy great success when one of the members snaps, and suddenly kills two of the others. The two survivors, a husband and wife, subdue the killer but are then faced with an agonizing dilemma. With no chance of turning him over to the authorities for many weeks, they must decide whether to exact justice themselves or to risk trying to keep him restrained until they can return to civilization. —IMDb
Lev Vladimirovich Kuleshov studied art at the Moscow School of Painting, Architecture and Sculpture as a 15 years old. Afterwards, he worked as an illustrator for a fashion magazine and later he was employed at a Moscow film studio as a set designer, occasionally acting in its productions. Inspired by the German Expressionism, he made his directorial debut with the Project of Engineer Prite (1918) when only 18 years old. The film was considered among Russia’s most sophisticated early films.
During the Russian Revolution Kuleshov documented the war on the Eastern front in documentary On the Red Front (1920). Around that time, deeply impressed by the works of American directors Mack Sennett and D.W. Griffith, he started to devise his montage theory, later name Kuleshov effect. As an instructor at the First National Film School in Moscow, an institution Kuleshov helped found in 1919, he introduced his theories in editing and montage to his students and future soviet film greats… read more
One can label Po zakonu as much an "irrlicht tale" in the "catacombs of exaltation" (Leo Hirsch) as a formalist action film, a Western psychodrama or an experimental study in bigotry.....There is as much of the silent Westerns of John Ford as there is Erich von Stroheim's Greed and Charles Chaplin's The Gold Rush in Po zakonu. - Barbara Wurm
Lev Kuleshov directs this silent adaptation of Jack London's story, "The Unexpected," about 5 prospectors in the Yukon whose isolation leads to madness and eventually murder. Surprisingly mundane, the film lacks the bite one would expect from the subject matter, and the modern score by Robert Israel never seems to fit the gravity of the film. Kuleshov, for me, ranks below his students as a director.