Soviet proletarian film about anti-war strike at St Petersburg factory, 1914. Resembles Pudovkin's classic "End of St. Petersburg," made 4 years earlier: backward lad (Poslavsky) from poor ...
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Soviet proletarian film about anti-war strike at St Petersburg factory, 1914. Resembles Pudovkin's classic "End of St. Petersburg," made 4 years earlier: backward lad (Poslavsky) from poor village comes to town desperate for work. He's hired as replacement (scab) worker at big metallurgical factory, which is in the throes of a strike organized by the Bolsheviks (communists). The Bolshevik strikers are led by Ivan Shtraukh (brother of the more famous Russian actor Maxim Shtraukh). At first, the deceitful industrialist's son (Fedosev) involves the naive Poslavsky in an attempt to murder Shtraukh, but the attempt only wounds the heroic organizer. Will Poslavsky follow through with the planned killing, or will he redeem himself by going over to the side of the strikers?Written by
Prof Steven P Hill, University of Illinois.
Most people will be drawn to The Golden Mountains (1931) because of its music score by Dmitri Shostakovich, the composer's third effort for the cinema. Earlier films were New Babylon (1929), composed for a pit ensemble giving live accompaniment to this silent film and Alone (1931), filmed silent but with a soundtrack, largely comprising sound effects (alarm clocks, loudspeaker announcements, traffic and so on) and the important musical score which were added later. Both of these films have been restored and exist with newly recorded orchestral accompaniments.
Golden Mountains was Shostakovich's first conventional talkie and in common with many other films made during the transitional phase from the silent era includes scene-setting captions and was made with minimal dialogue. This enabled Shostakovich to develop extended musical ideas, often along symphonic lines. Those familiar with the Suite Op.30a, of which there are umpteen recordings, may be puzzled by the omission of the fugue for organ and orchestra but this was cut, along with around one third of the film, for a re-release in 1936. So far as I'm aware no print of the original 1931 version exists. The suite, assembled by the composer shortly after original composition, excludes the song "If Only I Had Mountains of Gold" which forms a pivotal part in the film's development. Thus we have the anomalous situation where the suite includes music not in the film and film includes (important) music not in the suite. There are no recordings to date of the complete score.
The film itself, needless to say, is an historic document and concerns a country peasant, Pyotr, forced by poverty to the city (Petrograd) to earn a living in an Iron Foundry. His naïvety is exploited by the corrupt factory management and he is "bought" for the price of a musical watch to spy on the workers and to deflect an impending strike. Eventually he comes to see the error of his ways.
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