For centuries invaders have coveted the treasures of Ukraine. And for centuries they have been guarded by Grandfather (Nikolai Nademsky – Earth). This mysterious treasure remains hidden at Mount Zvenigora eluding the often violent search conducted by Poles, Cossacks and Germans in the course of centuries. In the turbulent years of the twentieth century, the treasure is sought by his descendants in the hope of recovering a past in danger of being lost. A “cinematographic poem”, Zvenigora moves from past to present, combining reality with fantasy. It conveys the spirit of Ukrainian history, its transition from a rural, agricultural society to the modern world of industrialization and its discontents.
Zvenigora was immediately recognized as a masterpiece by Sergei Eisenstein and V. I. Pudovkin. The most sensual and poetic of Soviet masters, Alexander Dovzhenko’s unconventional vision and experimental style remained rooted in his love for his native Ukraine; its culture and its people. Zvenigora, his first major film, is also his most joyous work. —Mr Bongo
Born to a peasant family that descended from Cossacks, Aleksandr Dovzhenko experienced a harsh childhood beset by poverty and strife. He and his sister were the only children among fourteen siblings to survive into adulthood. He would later note: “I still cannot bear to look at funerals and yet they pass through all my scripts and all my pictures, for the question of life and death affected my imagination when I was still a child and left its imprint on all my work.” Dovzhenko’s parents were illiterate but his grandfather knew how to read and write. He would be a significant presence in Dovzhenko’s childhood, greatly informing the loving portraits of grandfathers in Zvenigora and Earth. His studies led him to take teaching as a profession. He graduated in 1914 and started teaching in 1917. The Russian Revolution would inspire Dovzhenko to join Ukraine’s Communist Party in 1920. He worked as a diplomat for a few years, after which he embarked on a career in the visual arts. He worked… read more
I wish I could have been on set for this one because Dovzhenko was creating something new. A different language. He didn't have the cinematic language like we do now, he was making it up as he went. The result was a memorizing and playful mediation on the lost of myth within industrialism. Weirdly graceful? Yeah, something along those lines. Its a different creature than any of us are used to.
Only really available to Western audiences somewhat recently and woefully neglected critically, this is the most daring, unkempt and mesmerizing of the trilogy of masterpieces Dovzhenko directed from 1928-1930. Eisenstein wrote after the first screening "As the lights went on, we all felt that we had just witnessed a memorable event in the development of the cinema: the man before us had created something new"
Wow. This film is fantastic. Perhaps Dovzhenko's greatest work, at least out of the few I have seen, and the best of his Ukraine Trilogy, though Arsenal and Earth shouldn't be ignored either.
this is where the trilogy started. thanks to Mr. Bongo Films we now have the entire set looking as good as ever possible all in theme matching DVD keep cases. this initial release has so much historical ground to cover the demarcation points blur each other. multiple viewings are necessary to suss out the what, why, and who. if you are up to the challenge of silent film plot theory you will arrive at central character thread - Timosh is in all three, but is a different charcter in the hallmark Earth. if you have the stuff, this could be a right on endeavor into one of the pioneers of quality film making with knack for broad vision visuals vs. narrative of character development.