Director: Boris Barnet
Year Released: 1933
Disjointed - though compassionate - depiction of life in a small Russian town during World War I, how it sends its men off to war (and possible death), how it treats the German POWs in town, how it revolts against Czarist rule (the picture ends just as the Winter Palace is 'stormed,' much to everyone's relief). Barnet lacks the kind of kinetic energy of the likes of Vertov, Eisenstein, Pudovkin and all the familiar 'big' names - and the joining of the various sections of the movie is clunky - but what he lacks as a stylistic dynamo he makes up for in skilled storytelling and in creating compassionate characters. The middle section, which has a Russian girl becoming enamored with a young German soldier is particularly humanistic: the nearby men beat him up for being a German and therefore 'the enemy' (one of the men in the town received a letter saying his one son was killed and another injured) but they spare him his life because the young man is a shoemaker, and the Russian men are shoemakers. It's the brotherhood of craftsmanship (and labor) that bonds men together, a familiar idea from this era in Russia/the Soviet Union's existence.