The classic 1929 Soviet silent film


Friday, March 30, 2018 at 8:30 pm
Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 2:00 pm

American Film Institute Silver Theatre (Silver Spring, MD)

The classic 1929 Soviet silent film with Shostakovich’s score performed live (DC area premiere)

PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez

This astonishing achievement from the peak of the Soviet silent film era is an historical epic, both whimsical and tragic, set during the 1871 Paris Commune. Originally banned for its excess and aesthetic frivolity, this energetic avant-garde extravaganza represents the apotheosis of the experimental Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), founded by directors Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, and was to be their final silent film.

Centered around the forbidden romance between a luxury department store shopgirl (Elena Kuzmina) and a heroic young soldier (Pyotr Sobolevsky) who find themselves on opposing sides of the political turmoil, THE NEW BABYLON was the first of Dimitri Shostakovich’s historic collaborations with filmmaker Grigori Kozintsev — a relationship spanning decades, all the way to their epochal KING LEAR (1971). The score, which bears the Opus number 18, was lost shortly after the premiere, and was only rediscovered shortly after Shostakovich’s death in 1975. DIR/SCR Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg. USSR, 1929, b&w, 93 mins.

“Kozintsev, together with Leonid Trauberg, aped the madcap pacing of the circus, the variety theater, and American movies, and Shostakovich followed suit. . . . When the Communards are killed by firing squad at the end, Shostakovich responds with a distorted version of the high-kicking can–can from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.”
Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise


Saturday March 10 at 3:30 pm: The Youth of Maxim
Sunday March 11 at 4 pm: King Lear