×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Journey of Dmitry Shostakovich

An artful mix of archival footage, classical music and spoken selections from the composer's letters and diaries, "A Journey of Dmitry Shostakovich" may strike a responsive chord with venturesome auds who frequent film-series screenings at museums, college campuses and other not-for-profit venues.

With:
Voiceover: George Watts, Helga Landauer.

An artful mix of archival footage, classical music and spoken selections from the composer’s letters and diaries, “A Journey of Dmitry Shostakovich” may strike a responsive chord with venturesome auds who frequent film-series screenings at museums, college campuses and other not-for-profit venues. The Russian-U.S. co-production might also be used by canny fund-raisers for symphonies in small and midsized communities where commercial theaters rarely exhibit such esoteric fare. Pic begins its world-premiere engagement today at New York’s Two Boots Pioneer Theater, in both English- and Russian-language versions.

Helmers Oksana Dvornichenko and Helga Landauer effectively structure their dreamily paced documentary into nine chapters, each devoted to a day in the final ocean voyage of the composer’s life. In 1974, Shostakovich set sail aboard the Mikhail Lermontov, pride of the USSR line, on his way to receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Northwestern U.

During the cruise, Shostakovich was intended to serve as a kind of centerpiece for a Soviet public relations push that also included concerts, screenings of movies with Shostakovich scores and propaganda films ostensibly intended to show passengers what the USSR is all about.

It is the conceit of the filmmakers, however, that Shostakovich spent most of his copious free time during the voyage ruminating over his uncertain future (he already was partially incapacitated by polio) and, more important, his eventful past. (He died in Moscow in 1975.)

Pic adroitly matches newsreels, photos and homemovies (and, sometimes to humorous effect, promotional films for the ocean liner itself) to voiceover narration while offering an “autobiographical” portrait of the artist as an old man. Overall effect ranges from richly amusing (Shostakovich is decidedly less than nostalgic as he recalls providing musical accompaniment for silent movies) to sociopolitically astute.

Time and again, the pic underscores Shostakovich’s occasionally strained relationship with a government that viewed an artist as nothing more than another instrument of the state. At one point, a factory worker is quoted in Pravda as complaining the composer’s compositions are too high-toned: “We need the kind of music that can be understood by all Soviet people.” But for most auds, the pic’s chief appeal will be a soundtrack rich with selections from Shostakovich’s masterworks.

A Journey of Dmitry Shostakovich

Russia-U.S.

Production: A Horovod production. Produced by Oksana Dvornichenko. Directed, written by Oksana Dvornichenko, Helga Landauer.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W), July Olshvang; editors, Alexander Sokin, Vladimir Samorodov; sound, Galina Siver. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, March 8, 2007. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: Voiceover: George Watts, Helga Landauer.

More Film

  • Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear

    Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear Ex'

    Netflix has added to its roster of Mandarin-language content with the acquisition of rights to Taiwanese dark comedy “Dear Ex.” The award-winning film will play out from Feb. 1. The story involves a recently bereaved widow and a gay man fighting over a dead man’s inheritance, with the woman’s teenage son caught in the middle. [...]

  • Audrey Wells

    Film News Roundup: Audrey Wells Scholarships Launched by UCLA, China's Pearl Studio

    In today’s film news roundup, Pearl Studio and UCLA start a “Say Yes!” scholarship in memory of Audrey Well; Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale are honored; and the “General Magic” documentary gets bought. SCHOLARSHIPS UNVEILED China’s Pearl Studio has made a gift of $100,000 for endowed scholarships to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and [...]

  • Honey Boy Knock Down the House

    Sundance Hot Titles List: 13 Buzzy Films That Have Buyers Talking

    There’s a good reason that much of Hollywood braves the thin mountain air each year to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not to check out the nearby ski slopes. The annual launch of the indie film gathering brings with it the possibility of discovering the next big thing in moviemaking. [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    Will Oscar Nominations Give This Year's Contenders a Box Office Boost?

    With nominees like “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “A Star Is Born,” the 2018 class of movies proved the Oscars don’t need a popular films category to recognize movies that also made bank in theaters. But now that the academy has selected this year’s crop of awards hopefuls, is there any green left to squeeze [...]

  • A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's

    Sundance: A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's Romance-Drama 'The Souvenir'

    A24 has bought the North American rights to Tilda Swinton’s romance-drama “The Souvenir – Part 2,” closing the deal on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival. “The Souvenir” is set to make its world premiere at Sundance on Jan. 27, followed by playing in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival in February. [...]

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

    Chiwetel Ejiofor Adds Authenticity to Directorial Debut by Shooting in Malawi

    When actor Chiwetel Ejiofor optioned the rights for the 2009 best-seller “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” penning the screenplay for a feature directorial debut that world-premieres in Sundance and then appears in the Berlin Film Festival before being released globally by Netflix this spring, colleagues floated the idea of shooting the Malawi-set film in tried-and-tested [...]

  • ally billboard a star is born

    Oscar Campaign Spending Reaches New Heights in Competitive Season

    The escalating cost of awards campaigning may reach an all-time high this season as heavyweights such as “Roma” and “A Star Is Born” battle for Oscar gold. The quest for an Academy Award has always been expensive, but Netflix’s hunger to nab its first best picture win, coupled with the presence of legitimate studio contenders [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content