THE NEW BABYLON
The Classic 1929 Soviet Silent Film
With Shostakovich’s score performed live by PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez (DC area premiere)
Saturday and Sunday, March 30-31, 2018/ 8:30 and 2pm
American Film Institute Silver Theatre, Silver Spring
This astonishing culminating achievement of the Soviet silent film era is an historical epic both whimsical and tragic, set during the 1871 Paris Commune. It is the first of Shostakovich’s historic collaborations with film-maker Grigori Kozintsev – a relationship ending with their epochal King Lear of 1971.
“Kozintsev, together with Leonid Trauberg, aped the madcap pacing of the circus, the variety theater, and American movies, and Shostkaovich 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
Related Soviet film screenings at the National Gallery of Art: Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11 (free admission)
The New Babylon marks the inception of one of the most remarkable film-music partnerships in the history of cinema – that of Grigori Kozintsev and Dmitri Shostakovich. The partnership ends with the most remarkable of all Shakespeare films: King Lear (1971). (If you have only seen this film on a small screen, you haven’t seen it yet.) In between comes (among many other films) The Youth of Maxim (1935). In short, the partnership mirrors the three phases of Soviet culture: pre-Stalin, Stalinest, and post-Stalin.