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Adventures of Half a Rubel

Half a Rubel / For Half a Rubel

1929, Kyiv Film Studio VUFKU, 6 parts / 1,869 m

 Aksel Lundin
 Mykola Bazhan
 Yan Kraievskyi
 Solomon Zarytskyi
 Kolia Kopelian (Fedko), D. Liubchenko / Ivan Kononenko-Kozelskyi / (his father), S. Liubchenko / D. Orlova / (his mother), Ivan Sahatovskyi (an office manager), K. Krot(k)evych (his wife), Mykhailo Orlov (Tolia, their son), Petia Kuryshkin (Posmitiukha), Andriusha Pashkevych (Stopka), Lukianov (Posmitiukha’s friend) 

The film is based on children’s stories Fedko a Tearaway and The Grandma`s Present by V. Vynnychenko.

Children from working class neighbourhoods wearing patched-up clothes have fun in Kyiv streets – they slide down showy slopes, walk on the brink of a precipice and even conquer the light ice of the Dnieper river. They can see, how rich people live, only through a gap in the fence. The boy Fedko who is called “a tearaway” because of his naughty and disobedient character comes up with some risky entertainment, and adults often punish him for this while his friends do respect him.

This is one of a few VUFKU children’s films which survived. It exacerbates the problem of inequality of different social classes, which, though in a less extent, is present in the film’s source – short stories of Volodymyr Vynnychenko, a famous writer and politician of that time.

The script was written by Mykola Bazhan, a Futurist poet, translator and editor of the magazine Kino. Children, some of whom are really homeless orphans, convey the dramatic tension of the film, which gradually mounts and due to fast motion effects and repeated exposure gets expressionistic forms. 

The Kino magazine calls this film “a rare example of thrift” as it was mostly filmed on location, and only the fifth part of it was filmed in the studio. This insures that one can see the shots of Kyiv in the spring of 1928, which due to their lyricism and focus on natural phenomena remind the Kinok Mikhail Kaufman’s film In Spring which was made almost at the same time. 

The film is stored at the Cinema Fund of the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre.