THE NEW BABYLON (Новый Вавилон; Novyy Vavilon)
1929, Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg
93 min., Russian inter-titles & English subtitles
9.2.12 ✇ 20.30 u. ⌖ Op de Valreep, A'dam O.
'One of the greatest masterpieces of the Russian cinema, rarely ever seen (in relation to the films of Eisenstein, for example). In fact, the film was "re-discovered" only in 1958. It depicts the events of the Paris Commune of 1871, the uprising in which the city of Paris revolted against the oppressive French government.
The film depicts the events leading up to the revolt, and uses expressionist camerawork to illustrate the frenzied passions of consumers and the debauched lifestyles of the rich. It then follows the tragic story of two lovers separated by the barricades of the Commune. Filmed in a dazzling black and white, it's been described as "a metaphorical clash of glittering surfaces" and "the climax of Soviet cinema".
On top of it all the original music for the film turns out to be written by Dimitri Shostakovich. Not only was it his first attempt at a full score, but also his only full length live accompaniment to a silent movie. Of course we present the film with Shostakovich's music, which sweeps gloriously over the images. I should also mention that footage from the film was included in Guy Debord's cinematic version of The Society of the Spectacle.'
- Jeffrey Babcock