on 28 May 2012
An amazing video about an amazing early achievement of the Soviet Union. Not only does the film show the vision of the early Soviets - building a railway across and watering a desert to grow cotton in area where it was never quite going to succeed; it also captures in a remarkable way some of the environment, the people and the world which were being transformed in pursuit of that vision. If one has ever had the opportunity to travel to and/or across this bleak landmass - preferably by train - there is still so much to see of the remnants of the gargantuan effort which was made to bring cotton to the whole of the Soviet world. It is still, just possible, to capture some of the impact that the building of the railway and the cultivation of the barren land must have had.
The film has been painstakingly restored - I have seen an earlier attempt, but this is much improved. I'm content to let others judge whether the modern sound track adds or detracts!
I think I understand the idea of linking this film with later attempts by English film makers to emulate some of the visionary creative Soviet film making. But I remain unconvinced that the later films share either the pioneering artistic skills of the Soviets, or have behind them an attempt to turn a vision of a "new world" into a film. Perhaps it doesn't matter! I bought the film for TurkSib and am delighted with it!
on 16 February 2013
Turksib...what a ride this was, 78 mins of dramatic clips and dialogue covering the building of the Turko-Siberian railway in 1929.
Soviet Propaganda? Yes....but also a work of art.....
Images of bemused Kazakhs wondering at the site of an automobile "the devils chariot", innovative maps that seem to have emerged from the present day, a crowd of kazakhs riding all manner of beasts beside a locomotive (cows,camels,mules,ponies),trains of sheep and cattle traversing the harsh desert, desert storms and so much more...
John Grierson adapted the russian original with english titles, which are short,sharp and lively. Its a rollercoaster ride with the clever score, sometimes urgent,intense at other times gentle and reflective.
This film was a major influence on uk documentary making and is possibly the best silent documentary film i have seen....
on 21 February 2012
I guess perhaps for film anoraks only ........... a true delight into previous lives perhaps conjuring up conversations with parents or grandparents about their lives and visual memories of those stories. Whilst it gentrifies most situations, for example, the English countryside you are still looking at things as they were even if the people who do speak sound very much directed as in Night Mail at the end. Best things is you can dip in and out rather than watch start to end .............. worthy of a place on the dvd shelf - enjoy