By Emma Widdis
This primary creation to Alexander Medvedkin's filmmaking occupation lines his technique of constructing a different model of cinematic satire through the interval of the Soviet progressive test. utilizing unique archival fabric and Medvedkin's writings for his unfinished autobiography, Widdis explores the flicks The Miracle employee, New Moscow and the experimental "film train"--or kinopoezd--as good because the movie Happiness.
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Extra info for Alexander Medvedkin: The Filmmaker's Companion 2 (The KINOfiles Filmmaker's Companions)
53 Indeed, it is productive to view Medvedkin’s work within the broader context of early avant-garde aesthetics: the work of Meyerhold, certainly, and also of the group of Petrograd artists who called themselves the Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), under the leadership of Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, whose energetic experiments re-envisaged cinema and theatre as a series of ‘attractions’ (the term was much used in this period to describe ‘turns’ or ‘gags’, episodically arranged, which replaced the traditionally linear plot of a film or performance).
This folkloric style is maintained in the film’s other intertitles, many of which are proverbial, and even rhymed. Often ironic and always self-conscious, the intertitles function almost as captions, sometimes enabling satirical asides (‘but the horse was a glutton, and Khmyr had no fodder’), sometimes adding to the self-conscious stylisation of the film’s folkloric mode. Throughout the film, Medvedkin’s debt to the narratives and characters of folklore is overt. Khmyr (played by the same Petr Zinoviev who had been the eponymous Duren of Medvedkin’s 1931 short) emerges clearly out of the folkloric prototype of Ivan the Fool, the lazy but good-hearted hero of many a tale, and a figure familiar in Medvedkin’s early comedies.
During its first year, the train undertook six major journeys, comprising a total of ‘294 days on wheels’, as Medvedkin was later to describe it. It travelled to Dnepropetrovsk in Ukraine, to the Krivoi Rog mining area, to the collective farms in the Crimea, to the Donbass mining region and to the Voronezh region, and produced no fewer than seventy-two films (a total of ninety-one reels, or 24,965 metres of film). Forty-five years later, from the perspective of 1977, Medvedkin laid stress on the round-the-clock work that his team undertook.