Magnificent footage, so much more intimate than the usual historical documentary fare. Profound images that resonate today. Framed brilliantly by Shub as both narrative and implicit commentary. The shadows of Stalin and WW II loom darkly over the heady, optimistic tone as the revolution is shown to succeed.
For those interested in Russian history, this is an amazing assemblage of bits of archival footage from 100 years ago. Some bits are less than cinematic, some are dramatic, but the sum total is an overwhelming achievement, adding valuable images to an incredibly complex story. Notable is the influence of the Russian Church in Czarist Russia, which has again resurfaced, as portrayed in Zvyagintsev's LEVIATHAN.
Much as documentaries nowadays use footage from Eisenstein's "October" and pass it off as real-life footage of the storming of the Winter Palace, we are dependent on the hardly disinterested intermediary Shub to show us the players in pre-Revolutionary Russia and to differentiate a bureaucrat from, say, a kulak, or a nobleman from a governor. But the documentary footage is fascinating, and rare, nonetheless.
A challenging close of the IFFR with a program that consisted of a screening of 'The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty', German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk reading a chapter from his forthcoming book, and a discussion between Sloterdijk and Romanian director Andrei Ujica to connect these two trains of thought. Read my full review: http://brnrd.net/blog/archive/2014/02/04/iffr-the-fall-of-the-romanov-dynasty
Esfir Shub didn't direct this film so much as compile and edit it, THE FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY chronicles the lead-up to WWI and the final straws that brought down the czarist government of Russia and led to the Bolshevik Revolution. Compellingly edited, the film is a fascinating historical document, even if it leaves out key details, like the murder of the Czar's family.