Evgenij Bauer

Scen.: Zoja Barancevič. F.: Boris Zavelev. Int.: Vera Karalli (Gizella), Aleksandr Cheruvimov (padre di Gizella), Vitol’d Polonskij (Viktor Krasovskij), Andrej Gromov (Valerij Glinskij), Ivan Perestiani (amico di Glinskij). Prod.: Aleksandr Chanžonkov. 35 mm. L.: 1019 m. D.: 55’ a 16 f/s. 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

The screenplay of Umirajuščij lebed’, tailor made for Bolšoj star Vera Karalli, was written by Zoja Barancevič, an actress for Aleksandr Chanžonkov’s company and – like many actors of the pre-revolution period – occasionally a screenwriter. The film tells the story of mute ballerina Gizella Raccio who becomes famous on the international stage but suffers from a broken heart. Glinskij, a painter obsessed with death, is struck by her melancholic and poignant style. In the painter’s mind, the portrait of Gizella should depict death itself. With the return of her beloved, however, the ballerina’s happiness is renewed, and a smile brightens her face. The painter kills Gizella to fulfill his work.
Shot during Chanžonkov’s work trip in the south, this movie launched the commercial success of films set in Crimea and the Caucasus. The director Evgenij Bauer worked outdoors, dispelling the myth that he only shot films in studios. The film’s movement, visionary quality, the story built around a ‘silent’ beauty branded for death: Bauer drew upon all symbolist influences used in cinema and lavished them on his film. A decade later cameraman Boris Zavelev, who shot Zvenigora with Aleksandr Dovženko in 1927, said that his work with Bauer was the high point of professionalism in film.
The press praised Karalli’s dancing, the swan song of Moscow’s classical ballet. As Chanžonkov confirmed in his memoir, Karalli was the people’s darling, and there was not a Russian village where her films were not awaited with excitement. Even if imperial theater actors were forbidden from appearing in film, Vera Karalli continued to work with movie studios “confident that it was the Moscow ballet that needed her, and not the other way around”.
Alisa Nasrtdinova

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