Nine years ago I was asked to participate in a film blogger thread about personal cinematic Holy Grails, and as my number one choice I selected, without hesitation, Yuliya Solntseva’s The Enchanted Desna (1964), a film I thought I might never see in any format, let alone on 70mm. But this weekend, dreams will indeed come true as New York’s Museum of the Moving Image plays Solntseva’s Ukrainian Trilogy in 70mm and 35mm. Solntseva (1901-1989) was an actress of note (she starred in the title roles of Aelita: Queen of Mars and The Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom in 1924) who, upon the death of her husband, the great Aleksandr Dovzhenko, in 1956, turned to directing to realize his unfinished scripts. The result, by all accounts, are among the most poetic and magical of films.
You can read what I wrote about The Enchanted Desna here, but I’ll re-quote just the two lines by Jonathan Rosenbaum that have haunted me since I read them: “The wonders of The Enchanted Desna… fulfill the possibilities of personal wide-screen spectacle with a prodigiousness matched only by Playtime and 2001, utilizing synchronous and non-synchronous multi-track sound with a nearly comparable inventiveness. The astonishing realization of a family’s trip at night beside a lake, filtered through the presumed consciousness of Dovzhenko as a boy, is an experience of color, texture and aural density combining to convey as enchanted a dream as the cinema has to offer.”
Though I had to dig deep, I have discovered a number of beautiful and varied posters for Soltntseva’s trilogy. The Chronicle of Flaming Years (1960) was obviously by far the most widely distributed of her films, with posters hailing from Pakistan, Denmark, Cuba and Canada, whereas the three Desna posters I’ve found are all Russian. And one note: though I always try not to post posters with watermarks, since many Soviet posters can often only be found in the exhaustive catalogue of emovieposter.com, which watermarks all their images, I had to make an exception.