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Archive for February 6th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USSR 1928 65m) not on DVD

Aka. Dom na Trubnoi

Hairdresser’s slave

d  Boris Barnet  w  B.Zoritch, Anatoli Marienhov, V.Cherchenievitch, Nikolai Erdman  ph  Yevgeni Alekseyev  art  Sergei Kozlovski

Vera Maretskaya (Parasha Pitunova), Vladimir Fogel (Golikov, the hairdresser), Anna Sudekevich (Marisha), Yelena Tiapkina (Mrs Golikova), Sergei Komarov (Lyadov), Ada Vojtsik (Fenya), Vladimir Batalov (Semyon Byvalov), Alexander Gromov (Uncle Fedya),

A caption states that a city sleeps.  Lights in a tenement go out.  Moscow is shown slowly coming to life.  Sweepers go about the streets cleaning up in almost rhythmic fashion.  Shots of tramlines show the effective nervous system of the city.  A church is reflected in a puddle.  Tenement slums are shown.  They have iron railings on grimy balconies from which washing lines hang.  Cats are seen darting downstairs.  Watching this procession of rising slumber, one feels almost as if one is watching a film directed by Walter Ruttmann, or maybe Dziga Vertov, a riposte to Berlin, Symphony of a Great City.  There’s something else at work here, however, something below the surface, something that slowly comes to the boil as various characters around the tenement building – situated on the eponymous Trubnaya Square – come out of their respective billets.  A girl walks past two workmen who eye her up.  Others come out to work. 

            The satire is worthy of Clair, and indeed the opening has essences of his early talkies, as well as Mamoulian’s later Love me Tonight.  Yet this is Soviet Russia, hardly a place known for its whimsy.  This is what makes Barnet such an unjustly overlooked master.  His greatest film remains the even less known Outskirts a few years later, which revelled in the possibilities of talking cinema, but Trubnaya almost looks ahead to sound in that in so many ways one feels one hears the sounds even when one doesn’t, from the cacophony of the rising tenement building to the theatrics of the final act.  (more…)

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