The messages are all Soviet bureaucrats' delight - "Happiness is in the collective," "Purge our noble socialist land of kulak saboteurs!" etc - but there's such creative energy, such wild invention, such beauty and bizarre humor that one gets the impression the film's creators couldn't care less about the Important Themes. Nudity, spotted horses, midget priests, surrealist gags: copious marvels and surprises here.
I don't know if Medvedkin is a "master" - happily, he doesn't seem to have thought in those terms - but he sure is effective. If Soviet silent cinema feels too formalist to you (for some folks it seems to), try out this outrageous, robust, laugh-out-loud fable about Tsarist Russia, in which a woman tells her husband, "Go and seek happiness - and don't come back empty-handed." A gem that we are lucky to have.
Showcases an enormous visual talent on par with Buster Keaton's technical tricks, but his sensibilities are closer to Charlie Chaplin's. Nevertheless he had the audacity to poke fun at conventions under totalitarian rule, so despite the fact that he's clearly making fun of religion and greed as much as state and anything else, still Soviet Russia was not amused.--PolarisDiB