Sunday, 20 March 2011

Yevgeni Bauer (1865-1917) - Biography

"A titan of the early Russian cinema, Evgenii Bauer was born in Russia in 1865. His father was a renowned zither-player, while his sisters became actresses. Bauer graduated from the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Over the years, he was an amateur actor, a caricaturist for magazines, a newspaper satirist, a theatrical impresario, and an artistic photographer. He was especially recognized for designing sets for theatrical productions, a talent that eventually brought him into the cinema when he designed the sets for Drankov and Taldykin’s commemorative historical film, Trekhsotletie Tsarstvovaniya Doma Romanovykh (The Tercentenary of the Rule of the Romanov Dynasty), released in 1913. Encouraged by Drankov and Taldykin, Bauer, then 48 years of age, graduated to directing for their company. After making four films for them, he went over to Pathé's Star Film Factory for whom he made an additional four films. Then in late 1913, he moved to the Khanzhonkov company where he remained for the rest of his career. As an artist, he quickly came to the fore, with his films proving very successful with Russian audiences and critics. He worked in a variety of genres including comedies, patriotic subjects, social dramas, and tragedies of psychological obsession.
Among his comedies were several starring his wife Lina Ancharova, whom he had met when she was a dancer in one of the theatre groups that employed him. She demonstrated genuine talent as a comedienne in her films for Bauer. In Tysiacha v toraia khitrost’ (The 1002nd Ruse), filmed in 1915, she plays a flirtatious wife who successfully outwits her husband’s attempts to thwart her infidelities by hiding her lover in the closet. Lina Bauer’s delightful facial expressions and roguish, knowing manner perfectly matched the mood of this well-crafted bedroom farce.
Bauer’s series of patriotic war pictures were made in response to the conflict with Germany and included Slava Nam, Smert’ Vagram (Glory to Us, Death to the Enemy), produced in 1914 with the great star of the early Russian cinema, Ivan Mosjoukin, in the lead. Perhaps the most outstanding of these topical films is Revoliutsioner (The Revolutionary), made in 1917 just after the February Revolution overthrew the Tsarist regime. It deals with a revolutionary who is sent into Siberian exile in 1907 and is liberated a decade later with the fall of the Romanov dynasty. He returns to a hero’s welcome but finds himself at odds with his son, a Bolshevik who opposes Russia’s involvement in World War I. Eventually, the father is able to persuade him that a successful prosecution of the war will aid the revolution and the two enlist. The film was ground-breaking because it was the first Russian production to dramatize the tyranny of the Tsarist secret police and the harshness of Siberian prison life. It also demonstrated Bauer’s technical virtuosity, as in the interior scenes between father and son in a darkened room with chiaroscuro lighting illuminating their faces, or the shots of the two in Moscow on a parapet looking out over the city." more...

No comments: