For all of the historical films and biopics that exist in cinematic history, there are certain parts of history that remain almost completely ignored. For all of the countless World War Two films like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List, the American Civil War like Cold Mountain and Gangs Of New York or even 9/11 films like United 93 and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close there aren’t all that many films set during other historical events/points in time such as the prehistoric age or the Russian revolution of 1917 that halted that country’s involvement in the First World War. It’s not as if certain aspects of history had nothing that wouldn’t be worthy of a great film narrative. The reasons why this may happen are wide and various but that’s a discussion for another article. Today we shall discuss a documentary film that explores an intriguing part of history called The Revolution – New Art for the New World about Russian art during the revolutionary years.
This is an era of history I knew almost nothing about. I couldn’t name a single Russian artist let alone one that lived during the early 20th century. This semi-dramatised documentary film brought these previously unknown people to life through an exploration of not only avant-garde art but of a captivating period of history full of controversy and tyranny. The art pieces themselves have not only survived an attempted repression from Stalin but even into the present. They’re survived in memory by the people that are interviewed including film director Andrei Konchalovsky & Professors Mikhail Piotrovsky and Zelfira Tregulova, in the survival of their work that were either previously banned or rarely seen outside of Russia and the re-enactments from the actors we see in the reconstructions to the voice-overs of quotes by Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Hollander, James Fleet, Eleanor Tomlinson and Daisy Bevan. They are perfectly complimented by the visual style of the film that was heavily influenced by the art.
The Revolution – New Art in the New World is a film that has real relevance in our current time in a way the filmmakers probably didn’t intend. At the time I saw this, the US elections were in full swing and the UK were still dealing with the ramifications of Brexit. Now the government are trying to fight for their right to trigger Article 50 without consulting parliament and Donald Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America. Both election results are somewhat instigated by the same reasons the Russian revolution started – the masses were angry with the people in charge for screwing them over and wanted to see the status quo burn. Desperation and anger turned into willingness in whatever offered an alternative. This is what happened in the time era The Revolution – New Art in the New World covers and the audience is left under no illusions as to the results: tyranny and the persecution of anyone who dared to disagree. This film can be seen not only as a warning but as a beacon of hope. The tyrant died and the art survived. Perhaps that’ll be the case for any creatives who make pieces of art, films, poetry etc that reflect the mood of the rest of the world. Only time will tell.
The Revolution – New Art in the New World is a definite must see whether you’re a historian or not. It’s something everyone can get something valuable out of which is the mark of a truly good piece of work.
The Revolution – New Art in the New World is out on DVD & Blu-Ray 3rd April!