The Heart of the World: Masterpieces of Soviet Silent Cinema

The General Line, a.k.a. Old and New

Staroye i novoye

Sergei EisensteinUSSR119 minutes1929GB&WSilent

Oct 24
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Pagan eroticism and some of the wildest montage effects in Eisenstein's work distinguish this delirious variation on the Soviet "tractor" film. The stunningly photographed General Line tells the true story of Marfa Lapkina, a peasant who helps in the struggle to collectivize the farm she works on. Sometimes compared to Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc for its daring compositions and montage, the visually hyperbolic film "is juiced up with poetic undercurrents of sadomasochism, homoeroticism, Dada-esque parody, and lyrical whimsy. Those who love Godard and/or Kenneth Anger will particularly delight in the bull's marriage ceremony, in which the animal's semen fertilizes the universe, though my favorite is the daringly masturbatory cream-separator scene. The General Line gives us montage as visual hypnosis, montage as sexual hysteria, montage as unadulterated hoot" (Bill Marx, The Boston Phoenix).

Digital restoration courtesy of MK2 and Lobster Films.