The New Babylon
Anne Nesbet is an associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures and film and media at UC Berkeley.
Peter Bagrov is a film historian, curator, and archivist specializing in early Russian and Soviet cinema. He currently serves as vice president of the International Federation of Film Archives and until recently was the senior curator at Gosfilmofond of Russia.
Elena Kuzmina, Pyotr Sobolevsky, David Gutman, Sophie Magarill,
We present The New Babylon with Dmitri Shostakovich’s original symphonic score for the silent film. Originally banned for its excess and aestheticism, this energetic avant-garde extravaganza represents a culmination of the experimental Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), founded by directors Kozintsev and Trauberg. Set in the 1871 Paris Commune and centered around a posh department store modeled after that found in Emile Zola’s novel Au bonheur des dames, the film focuses on a shopgirl (Elena Kuzmina) and a heroic young soldier. The inspiration for the photography came from the Impressionists—Monet, Degas, Renoir—and there are some magnificent scenes shot in fog, shadow, and moonlight.