Flicker Alley’s “Landmarks of Early Soviet Film” is a box set of eight remastered titles from the Soviet cinema’s most exuberantly experimental period comprised of two fiction films by Lev Kuleshov, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks” (1924) and “By the Law” (1926), Boris Barnet’s freewheeling comedy “The House on Trubnaya Square” (1928) and a particularly good print of Seregi Eisenstein’s rarely seen celebration of milk separation technology, “Old and New,” along with four documentaries: Dziga Vertov’s “Stride, Soviet!” (1926), Esfir Shub’s “Fall of the Romanov Dynasty” (1927), Viktor Turin’s “Turksib” (1930) and Mikhail Kalatozov’s “Salt for Sanetia” (1930). Look here for my New York Times review.
No startling revelations here, but it’s always good to have another film by the mysteriously neglected Barnet in circulation. David Shepherd released a double feature DVD of Barnet’s brilliant and unclassifiable “Outskirts” (1933) and the engaging comedy “Girl with a Hatbox” (1927) way back in 2004, and three years ago Flicker Alley released the mock American serial, “Miss Mend” (1926), which Barnet co-directed with the equally overlooked Fedor Ozep.
Otherwise, that’s it — still no sign of his masterpiece, “By the Bluest of Seas” (1936), apart from a version with French subtitles released on the discount label Bach Films (home to several other hard-to-find Russian classics, including Trauberg and Kozintsev’s “The New Babylon” and Abram Room’s “The Ghost That Never Returns”). For those who speak Russian (which lets me out), there’s an incredible trove of several hundred largely unsubtitled films on Mosfilm’s You Tube channel. You know there are some hidden masterworks in there: what we need are some cinematic Stakhanovites to start digging them out.