Vision and Communism: The Films of Aleksandr Medvedkin and Chris Marker at „The Film Studies Center, Chicago“ (Review Article)

Vision and Communism: The Films of Aleksandr Medvedkin and Chris Marker at „The Film Studies Center, Chicago“ (Review Article)

Medvedkin and Marker met at the Leipzig Film Festival in 1967. Marker was drawn to the Russian director after he came across Medvedkin’s Happiness (Schast’e, 1934). Four years later, in 1971, Medvedkin came to Paris. He helped Marker and his collaborators organize a release of Happiness in France. Projections of the film were accompanied by Marker’s documentary The Train Rolls (Train en marche, 1971), which introduced Medvedkin’sHappiness, and also featured an interview with the Russian director. The Train Rolls begins with a montage sequence showing the impact of the Russian Revolution on film and other arts, after which Marker describes the organization of the film train and the crew’s activities in addressing social problems. The notion of film as fact, which is implicit in the notion that documentary filmmaking can provide proof of fact that will lead to social change, is emphasized by Marker’s direct, hand-held footage of Medvedkin (1). Marker’s film links the two men formally through choices that consciously acknowledge the filmmaking process and also intimately, on a personal and collaborative level. Unfortunately both The Train Rolls and The Last Bolshevik (Le Tombeau d’Alexandre, 1992), Marker’s ode to his departed friend, are noticeably absent from the Vision and Communism film series. While these films would have further informed viewers, their exclusion compels spectators to generate their own links between the films and filmmakers.

 

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