Jasmine's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

Jasmine's Blog header image 1

Prisoner

May 6th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

Unlike several films we have recently viewed, I actually enjoyed this one.  Perhaps it is because I read the short story on which this is (rather obviously) based over winter term and recognized the Tolstoyian elements (and I do like Tolstoy).  Then again, the film was visually quite beautiful.  I enjoyed the mountain scenery a great deal.

I think I do agree with our esteemed colleague that the film and short story are significantly different.  The short story left me feeling that the Tartars were these really frightening barbarians, even in the end after the main character escaped from them.  The film did a much better job at humanizing the projected enemies–they want basically the same things that the Russians want, have many of the same hobbies, and, one could argue, they are actually kinder to their prisoners than the Russians.  After all, we saw our heroes in chains wandering all over the picturesque mountain scenery, whereas the prisoners of the Russians were always in their cells.  And, of course, in the end the father ended up sparing our young hero’s life, even though the Russians randomly killed his son.

All in all, I thought the people of the Caucasus came out looking rather better than the Russians for a change.

One final note:  the drunken dancing scene was wonderful.  Just saying.

Here is something that is almost entirely not quite unrelated to this post:  Russian Dancing Men

→ 2 CommentsTags: ···

Moscow Doesn’t Belive In Tears Or Feminism

April 18th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

At first, I thought, oh, another women-being-exploited film. Then they crashed that by showing Katya being happier than her friend.  Then I thought, Ha! Finally, a woman who doesn’t need some man to be happy! Then they crashed that too when Mr. Perfect Faultless Man showed up and she melted into a spineless wimp as far as he’s concerned. In conclusion, male supremacy ends up being inevitable.  Which was annoying.

And it was going so well, too…

One thing I found amusing though: my mother told me the very same line Mr. Perfect said, except in reverse–she thinks the wife should make more (which she does).

I’m thinking that the perpetual subordination of women in all these films might be my final paper.

→ 2 CommentsTags: ··

Ivan’s Childhood

April 10th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

And now I want to talk about the most depressing film to date: Ivan’s Childhood. Not only was it a visually arresting film, but the story and dramatization was impressive as well. I found that the insertion of bright, mostly cheerful dream sequences of the past into the darker present reality really highlighted horror of the war and its effect on the people involved in it. If we hadn’t had those dreams, and known just how good life COULD be, the movie probably would have seemed a great deal less grim–possibly comparable to Chapaev–although it still would’ve been tragic.
It’s really the juxtaposition that got me.

→ No CommentsTags: ··

White Sun of the Desert Blurb

April 10th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

I am appealing to you in order to convince you that White Sun of the Desert is something which would make an excellent presentation.  It is a very Russian film, and fits the infamous “Eastern” genre that we have heard about in class.  And it is silly.  There is the young but world-wise Red Army soldier who longs for his homeland and his lady love; his even younger protege who chases women and is a bit of an idiot; the retired czarist officer who yearns to relive the glory of his younger days.

As so often happens in films, women play a secondary role.  A good project for this film could be discussing the portrayal of women and their expected roles in society.  The film itself could be critiquing the amount of housework a woman was expected to do.  Though the hardworking Russian woman is still held as the pinnacle of womanhood.

Here are some pretty pretty pictures.

This is the harem of the main villain after being rescued by Red Army soldiers.  Who are then dumped on the protagonist to take care of.

This is Katerina Matveyevna, the lady love of the protagonist.

The daydream of taking the harem home to help out Katerina.

Aren’t these pictures pretty?  Don’t you just long to see the rest of the film now?  Did I mention it’s a comedy (well, sort of.  It’s sillier than most of the films we’ve watched, but still kinda kills characters.  Such is Russian film)?

→ 3 CommentsTags: ··

Concerning Ivan the Terrible

March 20th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

I agree that Ivan the terrible is about power.  However, I think it is even more about the ability of power to corrupt.  In the beginning, the boyars are corrupt in their grasping for power, while Ivan, still new to having power, is all noble and stuff.  But as the film progresses, Ivan becomes more and more temperamental and prone to anger.   In repressing the power of the boyars, he himself is becoming more terrible.  After his wife dies, he’s practically insane with paranoia and anger.  We didn’t see part 2, but from the descriptions we’ve read it seems that Ivan becomes totally corrupted.
I also agree that it is possible to read this as being about Stalin.  But I prefer to think of it as a metaphor for the descent of the bolshevik government into something equally or more repressive as the previous government.   The actor kinda looks like a cross between Stalin and Lennin, you know.

→ No CommentsTags: ···

Circus

March 15th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

In Circus, the show put on by the soviets was much more magnificent in scale. But, their show was modeled after the foreign show. So, we could say that we’re being shown that the Russians can take a good idea and make it bigger and better, but can’t really think of an original idea themselves. If, you know, you want to really extrapolate.

→ No CommentsTags:

Chapaev

March 3rd, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

What interested me most about Chapaev was the use of sound. Sound wasn’t just an accompaniment to the film; it was used to highlight dramatic moments and significant actions. For instance, during one of the battle sequences there was no sound at all except for dramatic music. Then the sounds of fighting suddenly faded back in. And when people were galloping around on horseback, the horses’ hooves only made a sound when the rider was going somewhere important. Even in the very beginning, when Chapaev was driving up in his little sledge, the only sound was the bells on the sledge; no hoofbeats, no creaking wheels, no groaning wood.
I also found this a bit surprising, as this was an early sound film, but these are techniques commonly used today.

→ No CommentsTags: ·

Battleship Potemkin

February 20th, 2011 by Jasmine Owens · Uncategorized

The portrayal of the heroes in Battleship Potemkin is very much in line with the political ideology espoused by the Soviet government of the time (big surprise).  I noticed several things:  the heroes (at least on the Potemkin) almost always wore white, while the villains wore black.  On the shore, this wasn’t quite the case; the heroes were instead identified primarily by their attitude towards the sailors on the Potemkin.  And, of course, most of them wore working-class clothing.

Another characteristic of the heroes is that they never attacked unless provoked.  The sailors didn’t resort to violence until after the obviously evil officers tried to shoot their comrades.  The people on the shore didn’t attack the rich man until after he had offended them.  And the sailors on the Potemkin didn’t even attack the other battleships once their working-class comrades refused to fire on the Potemkin.

I also noticed that only the heroes were brave and noble.  No sailors or people on the pier attacked anyone from behind; only the “oppressors” did that.  The captain shot the heroic sailor from behind; the czar’s soldiers began their massacre from behind.  Of course, the enemy was also incapable of showing any compassion, as shown again by the captain on the Potemkin and the soldiers’ merciless shooting of the woman holding her dead child.

Which brings us to children in danger.  There is no question that the soldiers’ heartless attitude towards children is meant to reinforce the portrayal of tsarist Russia as evil and oppressive.  But really, isn’t sending a baby in a carriage rolling down the steps a bit over the top?  Isn’t killing the mother bad enough?
Although, the baby wasn’t directly killed by the soldiers.  Perhaps there is a notion that it was neglect of citizens as much as direct oppression that made the old regime evil?

Personally, my favorite image was the statue’s arm outstretched behind the advancing soldiers.

This isn't the angle I had in mind, but it was hard enough just to find a head-on picture of the statue.

→ 1 CommentTags: ···