Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov
Screening on Film
Directed by Alexander Dovzhenko.
With Semyon Svashenko, A. Buchma, Mikola Nademsky.
USSR, 1929, 35mm, black & white, silent, 99 min.
Print source: HFA

H is for Historical Revision

Based on an actual historical incident, Arsenal focuses on the failed January 1918 Bolshevik uprising and the struggles of a group of pro-Bolshevik workers to defend a munitions plant in Kiev against Ukrainian national forces. Dovzhenko uses the historical context to construct a parable about the assimilation of Ukraine into modern Soviet society. Although the film’s overt focus is on the struggle between the warring groups, Dovzhenko artfully employs an array of visuals from Ukrainian folklore to chronicle the transition from the traditional to the modern. Despite the film’s oblique narrative structure, it stands as one of the finest and most lyrical works of the Soviet silent cinema.

Part of film series

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Cinema A–Z: Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive

Other film series with this film

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A Tribute to Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov