Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov [The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks] (1924) + PHACE

Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov
Director: Lev Kuleshov
Writer: Nikolai Aseyev, Vsevolod Pudovkin
Cast: Porfiri Podobed, Boris Barnet, Aleksandra Khokhlova, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Sergey Komarov, Leonid Obolensky, Vera Lopatina, G. Kharlampiev
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by PHACE
Seen on: 29.3.2016

Plot:
USAmerican Mister West (Porfiri Podobed) is tasked with traveling to Russia to see the land of the Bolsheviks for himself. Trouble is, all West knows about Russia is a magazine article making them out to be the worst kind of savages and Mr West is pretty much scared out of his wits. So he takes his faithful companion Jeddy the Cowboy (Boris Barnet) and starts praying. Once he reaches Russia, West is actually robbed. The thieves find the magazine and decide to create the savage land portrayed there for West, sure that they can squeeze some money out of him that way.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks is a funny, albeit silly film. The music by PHACE wasn’t that much my cup of tea, but it works as accompaniment to the film.

mrwestbolsheviks

That Russia and the USA obviously have had a bit of a tense relationship for quite a while and that tension is certainly present in this film. But the film prefers to take the comedy route – Mr West’s fears are not entirely unfounded, but mostly ridiculous, just like he is a not entirely unsympathetic character, but pretty much laughable. I mean, he does travel with a cowboy as protection – and by cowboy I am talking about the full monty: hat, guns, boots, lasso. It’s pretty damn amazing.

It’s West’s fear and his naivitĂ© above all that brings him into all kind of trouble. There is a certain “it’s his own damn fault for believing those magazines” undercurrent to the story. Those magazines generally might have been my favorite bit of the film: succinctly criticizing centuries of anthropological studies that misrepresented practically everything about their subjects. (A practice that was far from over when this film was shot and arguably still isn’t today, though we may have reached a more subtle version of it.)

mrwestbolsheviks1The film moves along at a relentless pace and every once in a while I wouldn’t have minded to take a bit of a breather. But it was enjoyable throughout, even if I didn’t wish it had been any longer.

PHACE’ music, especially composed for the film by Judit Varga, is a nice fit for the film in many ways, although I didn’t really connect with it that much. Since music is an essential part of a film, especially when it comes to creating emotions, this seems like a bit of a waste. But at least it didn’t annoy or bother me – which I’ve also already experienced. But I wouldn’t listen to it outside of the theater. Fortunately the film was strong enough that I didn’t mind that much.

Opmaak 1Summarizing: Enjoyable evening.

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