Article 5380 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Featuring Georgi Astafyev, Nikolai Nademsky, Vladimir Uralsky
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Avant-garde folk fantasy
A centuries-old man guards the hidden treasure of Ukraine in the steppes of Zvenigora.
There are some movies you can go into without knowing anything about them in advance and have no problem appreciating them. There are others where it’s helpful if you know what you’re getting into. I went into this one cold and about thirty-five minutes into it, I found myself scrambling over to IMDB to see if there was some plot thread I had forgotten to pick up. It was only then that I discovered that the movie was a non-linear avant-garde movie. I wish I had known that at the outset; I think I would have gone into it with a different frame of mind, and I wouldn’t have gotten frustrated. I’ve encountered Dovzhenko before with ARSENAL, and I remember that one being a little difficult as well, and if I’d remembered that before I started this movie, that would have helped as well. At any rate, once I overcome my frustration and adjusted my expectations, I found some of this fascinating; the two scenes which involve attempted self-executions (one by firing squad, another by post-lecture suicide) are quite fascinating. There’s a lot of war footage as well as footage of industry in action. Does it all make sense? I’m not sure; I may have to give it another viewing. However, when I do, I hope it’s with a better copy of the movie than the one I have; I hear tell cinematography is excellent, but that’s a bit hard to appreciate with the copy I found. There are magical scenes involving the treasure, so there is genre content. For the moment, I think I need to refrain from any judgment about the movie.