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Commissar (1967/1988)

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    A film on the same echelon as Kilmov’s Come And See, Jancs├│’s The Red and The White, Shepitko’s Ascent and the great Russian silents as well as the vanguard 60s cinema.

    This is one of those films where image and sound form a perfect marriage committing to screen an onslaught of ingenious, uproarious and emotional imagery marred with wonderful sound design and score, all strung together by ingenious editing.

    This is cinema.

    The story is one of a Red Army woman officer during the Russian civil war, who ends up pregnant and is forced to live with a Ukrainian Jewish family, who has been used and abused countless times by the red and the whites. This is a story of humans coming together and setting aside their differences and understanding each other amongst suffering and strife. It is a test of loyalty to one’s self, one’s family, one’s country.

    Commissar was banned on its initial completion and writer/director Aleksandr Askoldov was kicked out of the Communist party and not allowed to work in the film business in any form again.

    It wasn’t until 1988 that the ban was lifted and the soundtrack remastered/re-done along with a reconstruction of the picture, which was fairly intact.

    But not until now has it been wildly available so I really would urge anyone who enjoys Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, Tarr or any of the before mentioned films to seek this one out.

    The US DVD from Kino is probably their best transfer yet; very pristine and sharp with no a lot of dirt or scratches, although it is from a PAL source so there are some ghosting effects on large movements, making the picture look simultaneously in slow mo and normal frame rate



    Thanks for the heads up. sounds very interesting.

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