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. 7

  • Black Square Dialogues
  • Rating: ***
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $59.95 Series (public): $575.00
  • Date: Copyright 1988. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Art, Modern. Music - Soviet. Soviet Union - Civilization.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Joseph Pasternak (Black), Nikolai Obukhovich (Dialogues). Color. Russian. Subtitled. 57, 30 min.
  • Available from: The Video Project 5332 College Ave., Ste. 101 Oakland, CA 94618 (510) 655-9050, (800) 4-PLANET
  • Cataloging: ||Art, Modern - Soviet Union||Art, Russian
  • Print Entry #: 1:1928
  • Reviewer: Susanne Woodford

    These two programs (on one tape) from the Glasnost Film Festival video series present Soviet artists' contributions. Black Square is a documentary on Russian modern art, its acceptance, and the artists who have maintained their individuality over the years. In Dialogues, musicians from Leningrad explore and experiment with jazz music. These explorations of the arts in the Soviet Union are well documented and reveal the artistic aspects of Soviet life candidly. This series would be very useful to complement Soviet studies courses and will be interesting to public library patrons as well.

    As the soundtrack's classical score mixes with personal commentary, Black Square examines the lives of 25 artists as it explores the struggles of modern painters in the Soviet Union and reveals their experiences under the Communist regime. These artists have great admiration for Kasimir Malevich, the creator of Black Square and considered to be the father of Russian modern art. The narration reviews their works through the medium of reading an open letter to Malevich from this group of artists. An interlude presenting a rock group singing gives this production the special touch of an American rock video.

    Dialogues is a most unusual production. It consists of a mixture of wild, improvisational musical solos combined with colorful showmanship, as it veers from fashion to popular rock to traditional jazz to experimentation. The production is designed to evoke strong audience response - tears or laughter. This documentary is expertly edited to convey the emotional variation from one musician's style to another. Dialogues begins slowly and builds to a crescendo finale.

    Archival footage, live action with closeups, extensive musical arrangements, and subtitles contribute to the overall effectiveness of these productions. Often, the use of white lettering for the subtitles without a contrasting background box hampers the viewer's ability to read the translation. There are several gaps in the soundtrack of Dialogues. Still, Black Square and Dialogues are mesmerizing programs for anyone interested in art, music, or the Soviet Union.

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