Declan Flahive reviews the new art documentary from Arts Alliance
The notion of analysing the Russian revolution through the eyes of the artistic community is a bold and daring move which ultimately pays off.
The entwining of dated and modern material fully submerges the viewer into the time frame of the revolution. Videos and photographs of the army turning their guns on protesters and statues of the old Establishment being torn down by the revolt, set the scene and give a raw viewing of the time, despite the often poor quality of such material. One instance which profoundly struck me was the tearing down of the Cathedral the Christ the Saviour in Moscow by the people, accompanied by the words of Lenin describing religion as the “opium of the people” portraying the rejection of religion by the people.
The content of the film was broad but in depth. Travelling through the works of many artist of the time you are left feeling like not many stones were left upturned. Exploring such movements as obstruction and escapism and the categorical examination of a wide variety of artists and their techniques and paintings. However, it can be quite disorientating being exposed to such an excellent but heavy range of artists in quick succession. The inclusion of interviews with blood relatives of the artists does help break up and separate the artists through various characteristics, such as Rodchenkos’ grandson describing his grandfathers’ innovative use of the camera. Imparting fascinating facts along the way to keep the viewer engaged played a large role in the films continuing fascination seen through Filonovs’ use of multiple small brush strokes so as to emulate each atom in a human body, and Chagalls’ “over the town” being created to make the observer feel liberated from the hard economic times, showing the power of escapism through art and imagination.
Whilst covering the artists of the Russian revolution, the film doesn’t ignore other advancements in society. The Bio-mechanic acting technique was developed by Vsevolod Meyerhold with the purpose of widening the emotional potential of a theatre piece. This new training technique for actors, along with the new political freedom in the form of votes for women, and the enthusiasm for communism leads to the notion that in order to evolve as a people, like in art, the old must be destroyed to bring in the new.
The refreshing use of cinematography and presentation of information results in the film not dragging its heels much at any time, although this is partly due to the vast subject at hand. This is for people who have any interest in Russian history, the history of art or who just enjoy being enlightened by information you probably never knew lay in such places, such as the revealing of the inventor of the photo montage.
For the trailer and more information click here