Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Abram Room: Bed and Sofa -Третья Мещанская (1927)

Third Philistine (1927)

Director:Abram Room
Writers:Abram Room, Viktor Shklovsky
Stars:Nikolai Batalov, Lyudmila Semyonova, Leonid Yurenyov

 

From a cultural point of view, the Russian Revolution of October 1917 was more than just an upheaval of the Czar and the beginning of Marxism. The world had been forever changed by the upheaval, and the new Soviet Government in 1917 was the suggestion that all forms of expression to the public, such as the cinema, should be under the guidance of the State. Lenin declared that "of all the arts, the most important for Russia is, to my mind, that of the cinema."

Third Philistine (1927)

The cinema was controlled by Communists whose sole aim was the spread of their faith, and they were out to show the world that the old system had been decadent and things were being changed for the better.

Beginning in the mid 1920's, Sergei Eisenstein, V. Pudovkin and other popular directors of the new Soviet cinema system were glorifying the Bolshevik Revolution by elaborately staged re-enactments of the upheaval. They churned out numerous, serious, no-nonsense films that followed the Communist Party line including "The Battleship Potemkin," "The End Of St. Petersburg," "Mother," "Strike," and "Ten Days That Shook The World."

Before Socialist Realism began to dictate what could be depicted, the new Soviet filmmakers were given quite a bit of latitude, and a few directors took advantage. Instead of following in the footsteps of Eisenstein by glorifying the struggles of the masses, one filmmaker, Abram Room, produced a film with only three principals.

"Bed and Sofa" (1927), starring Ludmilla Semyonova, Alexei Bartalov and Vladimir Fogel was produced by Sovkino (Moscow) and released March 15, 1927.

The film opens in a small, bleak one-bedroom apartment in Moscow in the 1920's, consisting of a bed and sofa during a very severe housing shortage. The film does not portray earth shaking events but the plight of the threadbare, pinched and bleak daily life under the new Soviet regime.

The film begins in a room, not a slum, but a very crowded room where a couple are asleep in bed. A cat stirs them up. The husband, a construction worker, rushes out to his job on a building high above Moscow. The young wife is brooding and resentful, bored with the constant, nagging succession of household duties, cooking in cramped quarters, and attempting to organize things where there is no place to put her clothes.

On a train coming into Moscow is another young man, a printer seeking a place to live. After wandering around Moscow with all his possessions in a bundle, he meets the construction worker whom he had known.

"No room, but we have a sofa," the construction worker says. The wife is resentful of the intrusion, and she reluctantly accepts it as another instance of her husband's lack of concern for her. There is now another occupant in the apartment that was too small for the couple and their cat.

The printer, who is much more sensitive than the construction worker, tries to make up for his intrusion by assisting her and giving her gifts. Then, while the husband is away on a business trip, the wife and the printer fall in love and have an affair. After his initial outrage, the husband calms down, and the three settle into a cozy, domesticated menage-a-trois until the wife finds herself pregnant. When the two men are trying to decide what to do, she announces that she has other ideas on the outcome of her life.

The decision reached at the end of the film by the wife at the center of the triangle represents the liberation of women in the new Soviet society. ...

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