Aleksandr Mačeret

[L’errore dell’ingegner Kočin] T int : Engineer Kochin’s Error. Scen : Aleksandr Mačeret, Jurij Oleša F : Igor’ Gelein M : M Kuzmina Int : Mikhail Žarov (Larcev), Ljubov Orlova (Ksenija Lebedeva), Nikolaj Dorochin (Kočin), S Nikonov, Boris Petker, Faina Ranevskaja Prod : Mos lm 35mm D : 111’ 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

On first viewing, Engineer Kochin’s Error is a film about sabotage and about vigilance against the enemy within: every citizen is vulnerable, exposed to the enemy and therefore a potential spy. Maja Turovskaja humourously observed: “The film opens with an old intellectual man’s face in the foreground, who is telling a story that is funny and sad at the same time. His wife left him to emigrate to Paris. At the time that kind of intellectual face had practically disappeared from cinemas, and if it appeared from time to time (Bersenev in Strogij junoša) it belonged to the ‘enemy of the people’. Engineer Kochin’s Error is no exception. Whoever uses Oleša’s language cannot be anything else other than a spy” (Gels et Dégels, Mazzotta-Centre Pompidou).

By 1936 Jurij Oleša, a successful writer in the Twenties, had seen the film based on his Strogij junoša script condemned. At that time, political evolution was reflected in his writing. He went back to his work as a screenwriter, a common refuge of writers who have had their careers threatened. In this case, he was working for the second time for Aleksandr Macˇeret, who was not much over forty. Macˇ eret studied in Paris, he directed the agitprop theatrical collective, The Blue Blouse, in the USSR and in Berlin, he worked with Julij Rajzman, Michail Romm and Nikolaj Ochlopkov: a cosmopolitan constellation, quite far from official art.

As engaging as a western detective film, it combines dynamics and ingredients that are typical to the genre. But it is difficult for detective films to fit to social realism, in as much as they tend to highlight the ambiguity of reality. Their directors use a lot of irony, contradiction and pastiche. Chris Marker was impressed by the dialogue and the unexpected film’s ending: the policeman thwarted the plot of a “foreign power, as they say in these cases”. He went hunting, aimed for a partridge and knocked down an owl.

Bernard Eisenschitz

Copy From

Courtesy of Festival di Locarno