Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film: The Filmmaker's by John Riley

By John Riley

Among 1929 and 1970, Dmitri Shostakovich wrote nearly forty movie ratings of Soviet movies, from Stalinist cult epics to classical literary variations. His lengthy and unusual cinema occupation has hitherto been neglected. Combining research and anecdote, John Riley presents this primary account to ascertain the ratings and their contexts within the movies for which they have been written, the ways that modern occasions formed either movies and ratings, and the way he considered, built and utilized his movie song.

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After being finished, The Youth of Maxim encountered problems, and at one point it seemed as if it would not be released. Apart from its inappropriate levity, its title (at that time The Bolshevik) may have been a problem: was it Intelligible to the Millions (1934–1939) 29 worthy of such a weighty title? 17 When it finally appeared, it vied with Chapayev for popular and political acclaim, but in the end it was a score draw and both became heroes. 18 But the most important endorsement came from the Kremlin.

The police retreat and the strikers build a barricade. The frame is expanded by having the police return, but invisible, with their approach marked by the sound of marching. This advanced soundtrack technique is then negated with a barricade scene with tableaux that are reminiscent of New Babylon, and which is even topped off with a rendition of the ‘Marseillaise’ after which the death of the old worker is accompanied by a funeral march that moves from the lugubrious to the defiant. The strikers are defeated and the red flag torn down.

Like Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky the major threat is Germany, but, whereas Intelligible to the Millions (1934–1939) 43 Eisenstein drew parallels between the present and 1242, for Kozintsev and Trauberg the model was 1918. Both films hoped to rouse people against the Nazis, but The Vyborg Side risked reminding them of the capitulatory Treaty of Brest-Litovsk – tricky given that the secession of vast tracts of Russia to Germany was agreed by Lenin. The Vyborg Side shows how the proletariat was not just involved in the Revolution but was its driving spirit under the guiding hand of Party symbol Maxim.

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