Three Songs of Lenin

“One of the greatest and most beautiful films I have ever seen” (H.G. Wells). In 1938, Vertov was instructed to reedit his most celebrated film, which he had made in 1934–35 in both silent and sound versions (now lost), and to remove any references to “enemies of the people” who by then had become the victims of Stalin's purges. This sound version features images of Stalin himself, which had been removed from yet-another edit in 1970 during a period of anti-Stalinist revisionism. The film is structured in three parts (not unlike Vertov's 1921 Lenin Kino-Pravda) and glorifies Lenin's life and legacy through folkloric songs, tales, and mythologies. “In this film,” Aleksandr Deriabin writes, “Lenin is Vertov's Future Adam, and the spiral montage is his genome, discovered by Vertov before it was by geneticists. Vertov tried to do what the Internationale promised in words, and what Bolsheviks failed to do in practice: build the New World on the debris of the Old....Those in power made sure Vertov would never get another chance to make a messianic movie like this.”

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