The General Line
(Staroye i novoye), (The Old and the New)
Anne Nesbet is an associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures and film and media at UC Berkeley.
Marfa Lapkina, Vasili Buzenkov, Konstantin Vasiliev,
Eisenstein’s first contemporary, rural subject, The General Line tells of a peasant woman’s struggle against superstition, hostility, and greed in her attempt to form a collective and bring to it a bull, a cream separator, and a tractor. This is Eisenstein’s “Russian Gothic,” populated with wonderful types and filled with humor and earthy imagery. It boasts a cream-separator spectacle to rival Busby Berkeley, wheat fields worthy of Tolstoy, and marvelous antibureaucratic satire on the level of the Russian Eccentrics. Our print is a partial restoration of the director’s cut, with the title and ending as they were before Stalin called for a re-edit.