By The Law

An adaptation of Jack London's story “The Unexpected,” By The Law was filmed on an extremely low budget, using only one interior set and five actors. The setting is Alaska, where three characters have been cut off from civilization by winter storms and spring floods. Kuleshov succeeds in building up an almost unbearable degree of physiological tension in following London's drama of three people who undergo inner turmoil as the result of their complicity in a murder. Most critics consider By The Law to be Kuleshov's best film.

“The mathematical precision of every gesture and movement contributes to the total effect of each character and episode. Kuleshov taught his workshop that the hands, arms and legs are the most expressive parts of the film actor's body and we can observe that their movements create as much of the film's tension as does the facial expression.

“This calculated isolation and intensification of significant detail and gesture, accumulated for totality of effect, Kuleshov had learned from Griffith and from Chaplin's A Woman Of Paris.” --Jay Leyda, “Film Notes, The Museum of Modern Art”

Notes by Tom Luddy, Yvette Biro.

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