Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Glasnost Film Festival, No. 6

  • And the Past Seems But a Dream Theatre Square
  • Rating: ***
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $59.95 Series (public): $575.00
  • Date: Copyright 1987. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Soviet Union - History.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Sergei Miroshnichenko (Past), Grigor Arutunyan (Theatre). Color. Russian. Subtitled. 67, 26 min.
  • Available from: The Video Project 5332 College Ave., Ste. 101 Oakland, CA 94618 (510) 655-9050, (800) 4-PLANET
  • Cataloging: ||Soviet Union - Social conditions - 1917-
  • Print Entry #: 1:1925
  • Reviewer: Cheryl Heywood

    One of the positive and more interesting aspects of the development of glasnost in the Soviet Union is the increased freedom with which Soviet filmmakers have been able to work. The two documentaries under review are evidence of both the good and some of the less good films coming out of the Soviet Union today. They are offered to Western viewers as part of the appropriately entitled Glasnost Film Festival series. Both titles are on one tape.

    The first and longer film is entitled And the Past Seems but a Dream. It is a series of recollections by aging Soviet peasants of the time they were deported to the remote town of Igarka during Stalin's purges in the late 1930s. The reminiscences take place during a 1987 return voyage to this village of their childhood. The film's matter-of-fact style lets the participants speak for themselves, interspersing their comments with archival footage and clips of old movies in an attempt to create some kind of dramatic effect. Western viewers might find this technique simplistic, but its almost naive simplicity works well here.

    Few people in the Soviet Union were unaffected by Stalin's shake-up of Soviet society in the late 1930s. For most, it was rarely a change for the better. It is films like this that bring that huge turmoil down to a very human level. It is difficult not to be moved by the sadness of an old woman who has had her life taken from her and realizes she is not going to get it back.

    The second film, entitled Theatre Square, poses more of a problem. Following Christopher Isherwood, it is merely " . . . a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking." In this case the camera is recording a hunger strike in a famous theater square in an Armenian region of Azerbaijan. The absence of commentary and the ironical interspersion of clips of supposedly happier times might be effective if we knew what the strike was all about. This film is an interesting, if unfulfilled, attempt.

    Some might find the faded color of these films irritating, but particularly in the first film it adds to the effect. This first program is appropriate for senior high school level and up; it is not clear how to recommend the latter film.

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