Jumat, 22 Oktober 2010

Grigori Kozintsev - Novyy Vavilon AKA The New Babylon (1929)

Description: The New Babylon is a metaphorical clash of glittering surfaces and deep social cynicism that marked the climax of Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg's experimentations with the conventions of the Soviet silent cinema. Taking their thematic inspiration from the story of the Paris Commune of 1871, the two directors fashioned a highly conceptualized allegory of social strata under pressure that transcends its historical roots to form a sardonic comment on the human condition.

The music, by Dimitry Shostakovitch, is also integral to the film's narrative structure. Normally in film, the music serves to compliment or amplify the visual image. The relationship is one of conjunction. In The New Babylon, however, Shostakovitch creates a relationship through the opposition of sound and image. In the music hall scene, for example, the composer interfaces components of the "can-can" and the "Marseillaise" with the vulgar spectacle of the pageant to form a musical comment on the French middle class.

Although the avant-garde aspects of The New Babylon caused it to fall somewhat in disfavor during the regime of Josef Stalin, it is precisely those elements that cause it to remain of interest today. Although ranking somewhat below the pioneering efforts of Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin whose theories greatly influenced its creation, The New Babylon still represents an innovative use of the cinema and one of the highpoints of the Soviet silent cinema.

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