Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vera Chernova, V. Demert, A. Ugrjumov, Vitold Polonsky, Olga Rakhmanova, Vera Karalli
Written by: V. Demert, Yevgeni Bauer,
Directed by: Evgeni Bauer
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 144
Date: 18/03/2013

Mad Love: The Films of Evgeni Bauer (2003)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Early Master

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Mad Love: The Films of Evgeni Bauer on DVD

This remarkable collection of three 45-minute silent films proves that D.W. Griffith wasn't the only early innovator in world cinema. Russian photographer/designer Evegni Bauer only worked for four years (1913-1917) before he died, but he cranked out over 80 films (about 26 are known to still exist). In these bizarre melodramas, Bauer developed sublime camera movements and juxtaposed foreground and background action for poetic effect.

Twilight of a Woman's Soul (1913) follows a bored, wealthy woman who becomes involved with helping the poor. One wretch rapes her and she kills him, but is forced to live with the memory forever. On the eve of her wedding to a prince, she confesses her crime to him and he storms off. He changes his mind but can't find her, since she has changed her name and become a famous actress!

After Death (1915) tells the story of a reclusive scholar who attracts the attention of a talented actress. When it becomes clear that he doesn't return her affection, she kills herself and her ghost torments him to the end of his days.

The Dying Swan (1917) is about a mute woman who becomes a famous ballet dancer. An artist obsessed with death catches her performance of "The Dying Swan" and tries to capture her in paint. But when she falls in love for real, her deathlike pallor disappears.

The disc also includes a "film essay" by Russian film scholar Yuri Tsivian, an informative DVD-Rom press kit and a stills gallery.

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