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06. březen 2012  

Kuleshov's film about energy from peat (1918): Anthony Nield thinks that with Hyperkino "Engineer Prite’s Project" proves to be a "meaty" viewing...

"…Engineer Prite’s Project becomes as much an action film - complete with chases and tussles - as it does a political parable. 
This blend is an interesting one, particularly in the manner in which it separates the film from the then-current norms of Russian and Soviet cinema. Even at the tender age of 18, Kuleshov clearly had grand ideas for his brand of filmmaking, one that would both reflect the modernism of the times and pay a hefty homage to the American cinematic styles of the time. Here is a tale of engineers and electricity - key signifiers of the new era - told with a new brand of editing heavily influenced by the US style of filmmaking and soon to become its own distinctly Soviet technique. (Kuleshov’s future students included Vsevolod Pudovkin, Boris Barnet and, for a brief time, Sergei Eisenstein.)"

Bauer -- Kuleshov:

"Kuleshov served as a production designer under Bauer, creating the interiors of palaces, grand homes and the like. In part owing to its tiny budget and in part thanks to his ideas on what his particular brand of cinema should represent, the young director largely eschewed such elaborate artifice for his debut feature. Engineer Prite’s Project was mostly shot on location, utilising a mostly inexperienced cast, and with that comes an appealing immediacy. At times the out-in-the-open action recalls a sequence from one of Feuillade’s classic serials. Arguably the various bits of Westernised attire and paraphernalia - cloth caps and tweed jackets, women in trousers, men smoking pipes - add to this sensation too. There’s a freshness to the film, as a result, that proves itself to be quite infectious, even in this fragmentary form."

And here, about hyperkino:

The narrative is coherent enough as it stands, albeit with certain developments suffering from being too briskly dealt with or lacking in sufficient detail. Nevertheless what we do have represents a fascinating piece of Soviet cinema and one that is ably adorned with a wealth of contextualising material in this ‘Hyperkino’ edition from Ruscico. Thanks to the various annotations that can be accessed whilst viewing we are able to read Kuleshov’s full treatment for the film or view an alternative edit or understand exactly how this represented a cut-off point in Russian cinema, separating the distinctive style of Bauer from what was to follow. We can even sample some of Bauer’s work to back up such claims, noting both the lessons learned by Kuleshov and the ways in which he offered his own spin on them or a complete disavowal. There’s even an hour-long documentary devoted to the director that is only a click away. The end result is a disc that is easily the equal of the current standout Kuleshov release, Edition Filmmuseum’s excellent handling of his 1926 feature By the Law. That film may very well be his masterpiece, but in this particular edition of Engineer Prite’s Project we have an extremely valuable insight in their director’s early career and as such both should be considered just as essential."

Comparing different hyperkino annotations:

"In comparison to the earlier reviewed By the Bluest of SeasEngineer Prite’s Project is certainly the more expansive of the two in terms of these various annotations. Whereas that disc’s note were wholly text-based, here we find clips, documents and a full-length documentary to accompany the numerous mini-essays which combine both academic and anecdotal analysis to relate the film’s background and significance. As said, all of this is entirely welcome and uniformly excellent, raising the thirty-minute running time to a much meatier - and ultimately far more satisfying - viewing experience."