Anarchic in its humor, caustic in its view of peasant life, Happiness defies easy categorization or definition. The painted backdrops inspired by Russian woodcuts evoke the atmosphere of a Russian folk tale and give the action a curious theatricality. The story concerns a poor and lazy peasant, Khmyr (“Loser”), who hates work of any kind and dreams of doing nothing. Before the revolution, he and his much more industrious wife Anna eke out a living through a combination of improbable good luck and cutting corners wherever they can. After the revolution, the local peasants all decide to form a collective, and Khmyr and Anna are invited to join-but can this committed slacker ever be trusted? Eisenstein among others strongly defended Happiness, but its ambiguity unsettled the authorities, who effectively banned the film until the 1960s-when it was rediscovered by new generations of filmmakers and film lovers both in Russia and internationally.

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