Though his film making career lasted only four short years before his death in 1917 at age 52, Evgeni Bauer is a relatively unknown giant in the world of silent Russian cinema.
Graduating from celebrated set designer to director, Bauer pioneered camera techniques and elegant set pieces that would become popular years later. Though he worked in a number of genres (comedies, political pieces, drama, and tragedy), he is best known for an unmatched eye for detail and the ability to blend the elegance and beauty into the ghastly and macabre. No subject was taboo and his pieces are as startling as they are beautiful. Opulent doesn’t even come close to describing it.
Special thanks to Milestone Films
TWILIGHT OF A WOMAN’S SOUL
(aka Sumerki zhenskoi dushi)
Dir: Evgeni Bauer, 1913.
48 min. Russia.
THURSDAY, APRIL 18TH – 8PM
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24TH – 10PM
One of the earliest of Bauers surviving films, Twilight of a Woman’s Soul is the story of a noblewoman named Vera (played by Vera Chernova) who, in attempt to break the mold of her class, vows to help the poor. This decision doesn’t come without a price.
While visiting the slums, she finds herself attracted to a handsome laborer. Their courtship is short lived and after he attempts to rape her, she defends herself and kills him. Though she escapes with her life, she is shunned by Prince Dolskij and cast out when she tells him what happened.
(aka Posle smerti)
Dir: Evgeni Bauer, 1915.
46 min. Russia.
SATURDAY, APRIL 13TH – 8PM
TUESDAY, APRIL 23RD – 10PM
Released the same year as D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, Bauer delved deep into not only this haunting tale of romance between the land of the living and that of the spirits, but also into new camera techniques and tints to elevate this film to another level entirely and often finds him referenced as “the Russian answer to Edgar Allen Poe.”
A young woman (played by Vera Karalli) falls hard for a man and, when she feels her desires are unrequited, she commits suicide. Racked with guilt over her death, the young man suffers both terrifying and sensual visions of a his lady love.
Bauers use of tints to denote time of day and the alternating worlds as well as his use of tracking shots is striking and unparalleled. This ghostly love story is a vision to behold and contains a violin-cello-piano score that is the perfect companion.
THE DYING SWAN
(aka Umirayushchii lebed)
Dir: Ebgeni Bauer, 1917.
49 min. Russia.
TUESDAY, APRIL 9TH – 10PM
SUNDAY, APRIL 28TH – 8PM
Perhaps the best known of Bauers work and far and away the most referenced, The Dying Swan is a classic story and Bauers treatment is nothing short of breathtaking.
When a mute woman, Gizella (again played by Vera Karalli) with a passion for dance finds herself deceived by the man she loves, she takes off in order to began a new life as a ballerina. While on tour performing The Dying Swan, an artist obsessed with death develops an unhealthy fascination with Gizella and goes to great lengths to garner her attention and trust. Needless to say, this ends badly.
In a film with a small cast, Bauer allows his sets and locations to act as characters in their own right. Melancholy reigns in Bauers world.