Dimitri Kirsanoff’s film centers on two young country girls who flee to the city after their parents are brutally murdered (we are given very few details as to who did this or why). The film’s narrative is very sketchy, as there are no intertitles, and the two girls have similar features and are dressed similarly throughout most of the film. One of the girls, played by the wonderful Nadia Sibirskaia (Kirsanoff’s wife), goes off with a man while her sister stays home in their tenement. When she returns home she soon has a baby, and her sister goes off (presumably as a prostitute) with the man. Sibirskaia presumably becomes homeless until she is ultimately reunited with her sister. The man they went away with earlier shows up again, only to be killed by a random criminal. —mseverson
Dimitri Kirsanoff (Russian: Дими́трий Кирса́нов) (6 March 1899 – 11 February 1957) was an early filmmaker, considered part of the French Impressionist movement in film. He is known for his inexpensively made experimental films.
Kirsanoff was born Markus David Sussmanovitch Kaplan (Маркус Давид Зусманович Каплан) in Tartu (then Juryev), Estonia, then Russian Empire in 1899. In the early 1920s he moved to Paris and became involved in cinema through playing cello in the orchestra at showings. He began making films on his own, and never worked with a production company. —Wikipedia
An absolutely mesmerizing film that I imagine could be viewed an infinite number of times and feel fresh with each outing. The power of moving image at its finest. Jar editing, superimposition, cinematography, and a bevvy of other techniques far ahead of their time are utilized here. It is anchored by four majorly impactful sequences, two involving deaths and two exhibiting cinema's power to convey compassion.
That we are able to understand so much from the beautiful fragments (traces?) Kirsanoff shows us points to the alchemy that lies at the core of the movement image's power. Essential.
Talk about an opening scene that just attacks you right in the first minute, a brilliant start that captures your attention immediately. A very brave film, experimenting with the narritive structure, camera placement and movement (traces of the soviet montage can be seen), it creates this ethereal quality that is both beautiful and creepy at the same time. I loved it and will surely check out more films by Kirsanoff.