Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 7:30pm
Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg's The New Babylon

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

The New Babylon, Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, 1929, digital projection, 93 mins

Though not as well-remembered as contemporaneous efforts by Dovzhenko, Eisenstein, and Vertov, Kozintsev and Trauberg’s The New Babylon is nevertheless crucial to the development of early Soviet cinema, an uncommon moment in film’s history wherein a revolutionary political commitment was bound, inextricably, to a radical aesthetic agenda. Its subject, rather fittingly, is another episode of insurrection, famously described by Marx as “storming heaven”: The Paris Commune of 1871. Its story, like a Zola novel, centers upon a grand department store, The New Babylon, with a sales-clerk-turned-communard (Elena Kuzmina) serving as a protagonist with a view onto the city’s brutal class divisions.

“The execution of The New Babylon,” wrote historian Jay Leyda, “is a consistently magnificent climax to the silent films of Kozintsev and Trauberg. The performances have just the right mixture of warmth and caricature, and the chiefly studio photography of Moskvin (assisted by Mikhailov) is as irreproachable in its way as Golovnya’s exteriors in Storm over Asia. It is a glittering film in which the glitter plays a calculated dramatic role. It is one of the most sardonic of Soviet films, and succeeds where most Soviet films about the past or the capitalist world do not; the trip to Paris made by Kozintsev and Trauberg just before filming their scenario must have been an extremely rewarding excursion. For the completed film young Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the first of his many film accompaniments, here scored both for large and small groups of musicians, but rarely used in the film’s circulation, and quite unknown abroad.”

A reconstruction of Shostakovich’s original score will accompany this evening’s presentation.

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.