Come, meet me between silent cinema and sound, and between the Soviets and the Americans, at Mikhail Romm's The Thirteen (1936), a crypto-remake, set in the Afghani desert of the 30s, of John Ford’s The Lost Patrol. A squad traveling home runs out of water and is holed up on a deserted Afghani camp and kept under siege by a roving band of locals, and Romm surprises by having next to no interest in tension (how little water, how few bullets, how many men left) or individuation of the squad to elicit laughter or sympathy (a Soviet trait?). The poetry is formed in the zeroing in of every poetic-material-compositional detail when it is introduced into the film world: the cascading rivers of sand (Teshigahara stole wholesale for Woman in the Dunes), deep space of the desert siege (one tremendous shot: in foreground a Soviet machinegun nest, in focus deep in the distance a Soviet coward beating a retreat up a dune—the bullets connect the two spaces in the single shot, uniting fore with background as one countryman guns down another), the precious drip of the water, the spiritual emptiness of a soldier playing his guitar to fool the enemy into thinking the Soviets have high morale. Bullets whittle down our thirteen instantly (no wounds, all killshots), and instead of honoring what is precious to these (remaining, struggling to remain) people, the film is deflected to the surface beauties of remnants of silent montage techniques in striking geometric matte shots of wavy sand lines, the criss-crossing of the frame and the survivor’s camp as a lone gunner runs from one position to another. A bright, reflective look is given by this film’s form, so intent on steadfastly cutting down and out its humans, extracting them instantly from the world, that the surrounding items and vessels, sand, hunts, guns, buckets, hats, seem to hold stronger in memory than that of any human being.