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Mad Love - The Films of Evgeni Bauer

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Dec 09, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For many decades, Evgeni Bauer’s films were buried in the Soviet archives — declared too "cosmopolitan" and bizarre for the puritanical Soviet regime. But with the fall of the Iron Curtain, Bauer’s work has risen like a glorious phoenix out of the ashes of time.

Twilight of a Woman's Soul (1913), Bauer's first surviving film, tells the story of a society woman who kills her rapist and — in its aftermath — must make a new life for herself when her husband leaves her. After Death (1915), adapted from a story by Ivan Turgenev, explores one of Bauer's favorite themes: the psychological hold of the dead over the living. In The Dying Swan (1916), an artist obsessed with the idea of capturing death on canvas becomes fixated on a mute ballerina.

After Death and The Dying Swan star Vera Karalli, the legendary ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo. Karalli’s colleague, the great Alexander Gorsky, choreographed the dances in many of Bauer’s movies including these two films. Restored by the Russian state archive Gosfilmofond and featuring brilliant new scores commissioned by the British Film Institute, Mad Love is a must-have collection for all lovers of film. Watching these extraordinary films is the cinematic equivalent of peering into the Tsar’s magnificent Fabergé Eggs. Bonus Feature: Documentary on Bauer by film scholar Yuri Tsivian, Stills Gallery.


"A pioneering artist of the macabre." -- Video Watchdog

"Bauer can now be ranked among the silent cinema’s premiere storytellers." -- Betsy Sherman, The Boston Globe

"One of the unknown greats of the era — his lush morbid melodramas are distinguished by a feverish psychological intensity." -- J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vera Karalli, Aleksandr Kheruvimov, Vitold Polonsky, Andrej Gromov, Ivane Perestiani
  • Directors: Yevgeni Bauer
  • Writers: Yevgeni Bauer, Ivan Turgenev, V. Demert, Zoya Barantsevich
  • Producers: Aleksandr Khanzhonkov
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 9, 2003
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000E69HD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,101 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mad Love - The Films of Evgeni Bauer" on IMDb

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Top Customer Reviews

Any discussion of silent film in Russia centers around the dawn of the Soviet era and its three great directors Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, and Pudovkin. Yet before World War I and the Russian Revolution there existed a flourishing film industry that is all but forgotten today. Among the people working at that time was one Evgeni Bauer (the first name has several different spellings) whose films I was totally unfamiliar with. His career lasted only four years (he died in 1917 at the age of 52) but if the three films on this DVD are any indication of his other works then he certainly deserves the title "the greatest film director you have never heard of" given to him on the liner notes of this offering from Milestone Films. The most astonishing thing about these movies is how sophisticated their lighting and camerawork are. They are easily the equal of anything being done in Italy, France, or by D.W. Griffith at the time. Also noteworthy are the stories themselves which deal with psychological issues rarely found in films of this vintage.

Two of the three films feature Bolshoi ballerina Vera Karalli whose face is as expressive as her body. Her performance of the title piece in THE DYING SWAN from 1916 gives us a glimpse of what it would have been like to see Anna Pavlova dance. This story of a mute ballerina and an artist obsessed with death is the longest and most potent of the three thanks to its striking visual imagery. TWILIGHT OF A WOMAN'S SOUL (1913), the earliest of the films on the DVD, features a remarkably frank outlook on the plight of a woman who is abandoned by her husband after he discovers that she has been raped. Certain images from this film seem to foreshadow scenes in THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI.
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These three wonderful short films (about 45 minutes each) from the years 1913-16 are like classical literature expressed visually, with the morbid heaviness of Edgar Allan Poe combined with 'highbrow' culture of Russia just before the Russian Revolution. They are sad and haunting stories beautifully and elegantly presented by director, Evgeni Bauer, who uses various techniques to create a mood, and to express or underline an idea or emotion. Of the few intertitles, many read like classic literature or prose, leaving you with a thought to contemplate in just a few words. Like such good literature with emotional and psychological themes, it is worth the effort to focus and be immersed in the story. Beautiful classical music on piano and strings fit the images and moods perfectly, and the overall picture quality is very good. The principle actors perform gracefully and emotively, adding to the overall classical feeling. I also found these films to be a fascinating glimpse back in time to this era of Russian history.
Among the special features on this DVD is a documentary explaining some of the techniques used by Evgeni Bauer which heighten one's appreciation for the films. It's probably a good idea to watch this documentary afterwards, when familiar with the three films, and then to watch them again later with the deeper insights gained from this documentary. Overall, a beautiful and classic package from The Milestone Collection well worth having!
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This disc showcases three of the films made by the prolific and influential Russian director Yevgeniy Frantsevich Bauer, who sadly passed away in 1917 at a relatively young age. The first film, 'Twilight of a Woman's Soul' (1913), seems the weakest of the trio, although one shouldn't expect a huge amount from something that was made when the feature-length film was in its infancy. None of these films are even an hour long. In this film in particular, Vera, a young woman who wants to use her high social class to do some good with the less fortunate, is lured into the attic of a man whom she innocently assumes had good intentions. Instead of wanting the food she was bringing him, he rapes her and she kills him. When she gets married shortly after this incident, she initially keeps mum, but eventually confesses to her husband, whose reaction isn't exactly the most enlightened and understanding. Perhaps the weakness of this film isn't the short length or even the fact that features were in their infancy, but rather because, given the era, a lot of the most important events could only be vaguely hinted at instead of portrayed in a more direct way. For example, the rape could have been made more immediately obvious without being as graphic as such a scene would be today.

'The Dying Swan' (1916) was my favorite of the trio. The beautiful Gizella (Vera Karalli) is a mute who is betrayed by Viktor, the man she believed loved her. After she discovers him with another woman, she runs away and, together with her doting father, leaves the city and eventually finds huge success as a ballet dancer. While performing one night, she is seen by the artist Glinskiy, who feels that this sad dancer may be the perfect model for his dream painting.
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