Thursday, 6 September 2012

dvd review: alexander dovzhenko's war trilogy

Aleksandr Dovshenko may not carry the same name recognition as contemporaries like Sergei Eisenstein or Dziga Vertov, but eighty years on his best work remains as inventive and revelatory as that of Soviet cinema's favoured sons. His three most celebrated works, Zvenigora (1928), Arsenal (1929) and Earth (1930) - commonly termed the Ukraine Trilogy, but more enticingly (if less accurately) re-christened the War Trilogy for this box set - collectively map key moments in the transformation of the director's homeland.

Naturally, some of the historical nuances resonate less clearly in a modern context, but the films remain engrossing at a more experiential level, with their imaginative edits and dramatic crescendos undiminished by time. Arsenal makes an especially pronounced impact, its visions of trench warfare retaining a terrifying intensity, though all three films possess their own distinct character and points of recommendation. Even those to whom the phrase 'silent revolutionary montage' is anathema would do well to take a chance at conversion.

Out 24th September

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