+ FOUND +
1930, Odesa Film Studio Ukrainfilm, 7 parts / 2.200 m
The film commemorates the 10th anniversary of the siege of Perekop by the Soviet Army.
Kavaleridze films the silent revolutionary epic film Perekop about the Perekop-Chongar Operation (1920), as part of which the Red Army led by Nestor Makhno’s detachments defeated Wrangel, captured Crimea and, according to the Soviet historiographic axiom, put an end to the civil war. However, based on Kavaleridze’s idea, it is more than that, “my film is dedicated to three Perekops – the military one, kulak liquidation and a five-year plan implementation.” In Perekop Kavaleridze partially shifts away from the synthesis of cinema and sculpture invented and developed by him in his first, now lost film Downpour (1929).
While the experimental film Downpour was made in the studio at the background of black velvet with minimalistic cubes, the director films some of Perekop episodes on location. However, he does not abandon his idea of combining the plastic arts and the language of cinema which is especially visible in the scene of the army’s crossing of Syvash filmed in the studio in complete darkness. As Kavaleridze wrote, he uses “light instead of a chisel which creates depth and almost stereo imaging,” and also the dynamics of lightning which “enlarges close-ups and midshots of actors covered with flakes of gypsum and crystals of naphthalene.”
One cannot but notice the pioneering work of the cameraman Mykola Topchii which includes unexpected angles, close-ups and panorama views, slow motion and speed-up techniques. Topchii starts cooperating with Kavaleridze during Downpour as an assistant of the cameraman Oleksii Kaliuzhnyi. Kavaleridze develops scenic design together with the talented film artist Hryhorii Dovzhenko who was one of Boichukists and worked in monumental painting.
The director manages to have some great historical and philosophical generalisations in the genre of epic films. As the actor Petro Masokha recalls, “The director did not show any specific historical events but rather moving monuments which were to have an impact on the viewer due to the original romanticism of his compositions, lights and shadows of the cameraman, actors’ mise-en-scènes within abstract spaces and lines of the scenic design.” Due to the poetic imaging, the scenes, which at first glance seem to be unrelated, gain historical symbolism and monumentality. Impressive crowd scenes, interesting cameraman’s discoveries and stage techniques make Perekop similar to Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s films.
The film is partially saved.