Set against a backdrop of oil derricks and sand dunes, this impressive silent-era feature about the geopolitical struggle for the control of oil fields is still relevant today. “Shengelaia went to the film factory of Azerbaijan, Azerkino, to direct Twenty-Six Commissars . . . about the 1918 defeat of pro-Soviet forces in Baku, an event that had opened the doors for British and Turkish occupants. . . . The picture's stylish pathos and ritualism preceded the monumentalism of the late 1930s–1940s and secured it a place in the annals of Soviet cinema” (Peter Rollberg, Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema).