Grigorij Kozincev, Leonid Trauberg

Scen.: Grigorij Kozincev, Leonid Trauberg. F.: Andrej Moskvin. M.: Anna Ruzanova. Scgf.: Evgenij Enej. Mus.: Dmitrij Šostakovič. Int.: Boris Čirkov (Maksim), Stepan Kajukov (Dëma), Aleksandr Kulakov (Andrej), Valentina Kibardina (Nataša), Michail Tarchanov (Polivanov), Michail Šelkovskij (il caposquadra), S. Leont’ev (l’ingegnere), Pavel Volkov (il lavoratore con la fisarmonica), Vladimir Sladkopevcev (il custode). Prod.: Lenfilm. 35mm. D.: 97’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Junost’ Maksima came out just a few months after Čapaev. The film was very popular. But not quite as much as Čapaev. It was argued many times that, had it been released earlier, Junost’ Maksima would have gained first place… Would it really? Unlike The Vasil’ev Brothers, Kozincev and Trauberg were experienced directors, with a name and a whole flock of pupils. Their Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS) was already an important page in the history of Soviet Cinema, Šinel (The Overcoat, 1926), S.V.D. – Sojuz Velikogo Dela (S.V.D. – The Club of the Big Deed, 1927) and Novyj Vavilon (The New Babylon, 1929) made quite a splash both in the USSR and outside the country.
Junost’ Maksima was supposed to be a turning point, their first film openly oriented towards the general audience, a farewell to montage aesthetics and eccentricity, a straightforward adventure story with a simple and sympathetic protagonist: a young Bolshevik who was starting his clandestine career in pre-revolutionary Russia. Yet, this farewell turned out to be a long one. Working with, perhaps, the best cameraman in the country (Andrej Moskvin, who would later shoot Ivan the Terrible), it was a pity not to show “the black night of reaction” in all its glamour. And Dmitrij Šostakovič, Kozincev and Trauberg’s permanent composer, enjoyed turning frivolous chansonettes into a symphony of sorts.
As for the eccentricity, it wasn’t gone at all (luckily for us). Not only because the Bolshevik was played by a comedian (Boris Čirkov was famous for playing Sancho Panza in children’s theatre). What really provides the ‘flavor’ is the choice of various exotic accents. The revolutionaries aren’t half as memorable as the policemen, stoolpigeons, prostitutes, jail guards. Exotic topics led to exotic solutions. Fascinated by various prison photos they ran into, Kozincev and Trauberg included a whole scene where such a photo is being taken, and, together with Moskvin, came up with “planar idiotism” as its visual solution. And so forth.
Junost’ Maksima ended up being a complex, aesthetically challenging oeuvre. Too complex and challenging to reach the popularity of Čapaev.

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