Arsenal (1929)

ARSENAL (1929)
Article 5163 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-21-2016
Directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Featuring Semyon Svashenko, Amvrosi Buchma, Georgi Khorkov
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Revolutionary drama

After surviving a brutal war and a train wreck, a soldier/worker returns to his home in the Ukraine to organize a worker’s revolution that will center at the town’s arsenal.

The movie is based on an incident during the Russian Civil War in 1918 when workers in Kiev aided the Bolshevik army against the ruling class in the city. Given the time and place where this was made, there’s little doubt as to what the ideological content will be here. Still, ideology can sometimes tap into a creative energy that can imbue a movie with a spirit that can be appreciated, even if you choose to reject the propagandistic message. There is definitely a kinetic energy to this movie (especially during a memorable train wreck sequence in which an accordion serves as a visual counterpoint to the proceedings), and I can even admire the way it symbolically argues its points; in short, it’s an effective movie. The Walt Lee guide lists the fantastic content as being a scene where a dead soldier continues to walk, but I was unable to spot a particular moment in question. However, there are a few other incidents that push it into the fantastic. There’s a scene where a painting briefly comes to life. Also, certain title cards seem to imply that the words being spoken are by animals. Also, the final scene has a man refusing to fall after being shot, implying that he is invincible, another symbolic touch.


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