×
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

  • PMKBNC

    PMK-BNC Executive Joy Fehily Resigns, Will Consult and Manage Seth MacFarlane (EXCLUSIVE)

    Top Hollywood publicist and executive Joy Fehily has resigned from her post at public relations firm PMK-BNC, individuals familiar with the move told Variety. Fehily steps down in the midst of a five-year deal with the show business institution, insiders said, which reps A-list actors and below-the-line talent as well as huge brands like American [...]

  • Donald Trump Chucky Childs Play

    'Child's Play' Stars on New Chucky's 'Creepy' Resemblance to Donald Trump

    At Wednesday night’s world premiere of the “Child’s Play” remake, it was obvious that evil doll Chucky — the star of seven films over three decades — had a little work done. And now he bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. “Oh, you caught that?” Aubrey Plaza asked Variety on the black carpet outside [...]

  • Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening

    Academy Museum Opening Delayed Again to 2020

    The opening date of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has been delayed again, this time to an unspecified date in 2020. The museum, now under construction at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, has long been beset by delays and cost overruns. In December 2018, the Academy announced that it would open [...]

  • Bradley Cooper speaks at the 30th

    Producers Guild Shifts 2020 Awards Show to Hollywood Palladium

    The Producers Guild of America will hold its 31st Annual Producers Guild Awards at the Hollywood Palladium, shifting the site from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The PGA had already announced that the show would take place on Jan. 18. The organization, which represents more than 8,000 producers, announced Thursday that it has launched a new [...]

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    Amazon’s ‘The Report’ Gets U.K. Theatrical Release Ahead of Streaming Launch

    Amazon Studio’s “The Report” will be released theatrically in the U.K. three weeks before it lands on the Prime Video streaming service. The Scott Z. Burns film tells the story of Daniel J. Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer who worked to reveal that truth about an “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content