Flicker Alley, Lobster Films, and Blackhawk Films have released The Bolshevik Trilogy. These three films are by Vsevolod Pudovkin and The Russian Revolution is a factor in the storytelling. Pudovkin was a director, writer, and actor who made films for the people. The films included in The Bolshevik Trilogy are MOTHER, THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG, and STORM OVER ASIA.
This film released in 1926 and is an adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s novel. It examines life around a worker’s strike and the hardships that are a sign of the time. The filmmaker was praised for the, then, modern techniques that he used.
The video is a 1080p AVC presentation that has been remastered to a 2K product. Being that it is from 1926, the condition of the film is not where some others have been in Flicker Alley releases but I’ll get to that in a moment. When it comes to the sharpness, it is on the softer side but there are some moments where you get some details. The clothing texture of uniforms and close-ups are the strongest. As for the issues, scratches, blemishes, dirt, and debris are constant. The tone of the film is more like a lit grey with not the strongest contrasting.
The audio is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that is a piano score by Antonio Coppola. It sounds very nice and works with the film.
THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG
This is the second film in the trilogy and arguably the strongest. This explores how the Bolshevik party came to power with an emphasis on the laborers. This shows the evolution of Vsevolod Pudovkin in cinema.
The video is a 1080p AVC presentation and this is a huge step up from the transfer quality of MOTHER. The monochrome is softer and has more consistency in the contrasting as well as the white balance. Textures are bold and are more robust after this was remastered. There are the expected scratches and spots of dirt but over-all this is a solid transfer.
The audio is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix. It is a silent movie with a score composed by Vladimir Yurovsky. It fits the film perfectly and sounds beautiful. There is a subtle hiss on the track that was probably too hard to remove without ruining the music.
STORM OVER ASIA
The third film in the trilogy is set in Mongolia and it follows a young fur trapper that feels like a documentary but is a production. The 2K master has been created from the 35mm elements and rounds-off the trilogy nicely.
The video is a 1080p AVC presentation. In the same vein as THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG, this film has some nice shading in black and white. The images are clear and well done in this 2K restoration. There is some grit to the settings and really shows the heart of the film.
The audio is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix and is the best mix out of the three. The score is by the Olympia Chamber Orchestra. It is clean and clear.
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
-Audio Commentary: with Russian film historian Peter Bagrov on MOTHER.
-Amateur Images of St. Petersburg: This is exactly as it says and shows the city in that brief moment in time.
-Notebooks of a Tourist Present: St. Petersburg (c. 1920): This is some video of the area of St. Petersburg.
-A Revolution in Five Movies: This visual essay explains how Pudovkin was commissioned to make THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG and how these five editing techniques come into play:
Hunger – Leit-Motif
Inequality – Symbolism
-Audio Commentary: with film historian and scholar Jan-Christopher Horak on STORM OVER ASIA.
-Chess Fever: This short film is by Vsevolod Pudovkin about the world of chess.
-Five Principles of Editing: This explores Pudovkin’s five editing techniques that he uses in the trilogy.
-A printed booklet including an essay by film author and historian Amy Sargeant.
2 Disc Set w/ 2 Blu-ray Discs
THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG: 85 mins
STORM OVER ASIA
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
THE BOTTOM LINE
Before screening this release, I honestly had little to no experience with Russian films. That being said, this trilogy is the perfect way for anyone looking to expand their cinematic horizons and see what they’re missing. The movies score very well with audio and video presentations. Not only is including the entire trilogy smart for the release but all of the bonus features explore these works charmingly. I highly recommend picking these up and adding them to your collection.