Director: Alexander Dovzhenko
Year Released: 1930
Phillip Lopate wrote of this film in his collection of essays, "Dovzhenko's poetic style put me to sleep; even now I have only to picture waving wheat and apple-cheeked, laughing peasants for my eyes to start to close." I wouldn't go that far - only network TV can make me even remotely tired - but I can see where he's coming from in that it's visually repetitious: close up or portrait style images of people looking stern, sad, or wistful - one right after the other - in propaganda film made for farmers (though the Communists dismissed it as bourgeois artiness). Its effectiveness is based solely on whether you find the old-style portraits and meticulous framing to be all that's needed for a great film (don't look for a developed narrative or characters, because that's not the point) - I acknowledge its importance in the history of filmmaking, but would never go so far as to say it's one of the best films ever made. The frenetic music is one of its assets.