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Oleksander Dovzhenko, 1927
USSR | 90 minutes
Live piano accompaniment by Makia Matsumura!
Ostensibly a revolutionary epic, Zvenigora is in effect almost a religious one, refracting a millennium of Ukrainian history through myth and superstition. The timeless central trope–an old man tells his grandson about a treasure buried in a mountain–anchors an array of magical recurrences and parallels that keep the film's politicized present firmly tethered to the fairy-tale past. Dovzhenko called Zvenigora his "party membership card," but, steeped as it is in gentle Ukrainian lore, it invites more comparisons to Gogol.
"As the lights went on, we all felt that we had just witnessed a memorable event in the development of the cinema: the man before us had created something new....That is how Dovzhenko was ‘ordained’ a director: a real original trend within Soviet cinematography." –S.M. Eisenstein, The Birth of an Artist