Bed and Sofa / Tretya meshchanskaya / Третья Мещанская (1927), Chess Fever / Shakhmatnaya goryachka / Шахматная горячка (1925) 2 x DVD5
Abram Room's Bed and Sofa is quite different from the most famous Soviet silent films such as Battleship Potemkin, Earth or Mother. The Great Russian silents are usually full of propaganda, with stylised characters representing archetypes rather than individuals. Such films, while undoubtedly brilliant, can at times appear to be an exhibition of a director's particular theory of filmmaking. While Bed and Sofa uses typically fast "Russian editing", it is used unobtrusively and doesn't overwhelm the narrative. The characters in this film are believable individuals rather than revolutionary heroes or villains. The story is more about subtly exploring the way men and women treat each other, than about expressing propaganda points.
The film begins with Kolia and his wife Liuda living in a one room apartment. It is apparent that their marriage is not particularly happy. Kolia meets an old army friend Voldoia, who has come to Moscow to work. Without even asking his wife, Kolia offers to put him up on their sofa. When Kolia has to go away on business, Volodia takes the neglected wife out on some trips. It soon becomes apparent that an attraction has developed between them. The story is involving, often amusing and at times poignant. Each of the characters has faults, but they all remain sympathetic. The three main actors give fine performances, using gestures and slight changes in facial expression to suggest their emotions. It is easy to care about these characters and this makes the film all the more moving. Bed and Sofa is not only an entertaining film, it also shows something of the details of daily life in Moscow during the 1920s. It is continually fascinating to observe the customs and routines of this period. Moreover the film provides a valuable record of the Moscow streets and landmarks which have changed or been destroyed since the film was made.

This is a really fine DVD. It has two discs one with English and one with Russian titles. It has in addition to the main feature a bonus short film, Chess Fever, which runs just less than half an hour. This film is a comedy about the Russian obsession with chess and was directed by the great director Vsevolod Pudovkin and Nikolai Shpikovsky. Chess Fever is pretty funny and anyone interested in the history of chess will find it fun to spot some of the Grandmasters from the 1920s who crop up during the course of the film. Both Chess Fever and Bed and Sofa have fine scores played by Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Orchestra. This music is both appropriate to the period and to the mood and action of the films. There is also a very useful commentary to Bed and Sofa provided by Julian Graffy. He is clearly an expert on the film and speaks in an informative and entertaining way. The prints of both films are very good and much better than many Soviet films I have seen from this period. The images are sharp, clear and detailed with only a small amount of apparent print damage. The two films on this DVD are both enjoyable; Bed and Sofa may well be an unsung minor masterpiece.

2 x DVD5 | NTSC 4:3 | 01:26:58 + 00:27:47 | 4.19 Gb + 4.06 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Russian or English Intertitles
Subtitles: none
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Short, Silent

Directors: Abram Room | Vsevolod Pudovkin, Nikolai Shpikovsky
Cast: Nikolai Batalov, Lyudmila Semyonova, Leonid Yurenyov | Jose Raul Capablanca, Vladimir Fogel, Anna Zemtsova
Country: Soviet Union

Download Bed and Sofa / Tretya meshchanskaya / Третья Мещанская (1927), Chess Fever / Shakhmatnaya goryachka / Шахматная горячка (1925) 2 x DVD5:



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