Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | Colour
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A long film about Russia which was probably used to give an overview of Russian history from the revolution to the present day (in this case the 1960s) and give a general impression of the culture, architecture, politics and landscapes of the whole of the USSR. The film is rather generic, and at times amusing in its portrayal of Communism. It is quite informative, and comes across towards the end as being a film made to encourage tourism in the USSR.
Open grassland and lots of trees and the occasional electricity pylon. Another view of the forests closer to the camera. The narrator explains how the quickest mode of transport used to be by boat over the lakes, we see one of the lakes with forest either side and a boat on the water, and possibly some people on one of the banks. Lake Onega in Karelia with a piece of land jutting into it in the distance, on the land there is an ornate Russian church Kizhi Pogost topped with several domes, and a bell tower next to it, the camera moves closer to the land. A close up of the domes of the church and the walls supporting, they are made of wood. There is a close up of a wooden joint on the corner of a building as the narrator explains it was Russia's main building material. A view of a large wooden lodge, beautifully decorated. An ornate balcony with carved wooden doors behind it, the camera does a close up of the doors. A window with pretty wooden shutters and glass panes. The narrator explains these buildings often had their entrance a few feet off the ground, a large wooden lodge with wooden steps leading up to it. Close up of the steps. Close up of another lodge with a steeper set of logs set on a large board of wood that acts as steps. An ornate window with a tiny balcony. The overhanging of the roof of a house, carved into a pattern. A close up of the carving. A pillar on the balcony of a house. A piece of latticing. A wooden windmill. Montage of stills of wooden windmill and a wooden cathedral. The inside of the cathedral or pogost is shown, with pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary, the narrator explains these are called icons. A square with people walking around, in the background there is a cathedral and behind that a modern tower block, we can see tourists and soldiers walking around and the narrator explains the cathedral was built in the time of Ivan the Terrible.
A drawing of mainland Europe and the narrator says that at the time the cathedral was made, Russia was landlocked from the rest of Europe apart from the frozen north, as Sweden held the Baltic coastline. Europe is coloured black on a white sea, Sweden's territory is marked in red, and Russia's access to the northern seas is shown by a white cartoon arrow. A statue of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great mounted on a raised horse. The narrator says Peter the Great defeated the Swedes at the battle of Poltava (spelling?), the town flashes on the map of Europe, and Russia then had access to the eastern end of the Baltic and an outlet to the west, an arrow points from Russia to the west, the narrator states that after this battle, in 1709, the city of Petersburg was founded by the Tsar- it is now called Leningrad- on the mouth of the Yebar (spelling? Hard to hear this word). The river, and the camera moves up for us to see a tall fortress, the fortress of Peter and Paul, on the banks - the first building of the new city. The square within the fortress with a staircase and a tower on one side. The square behind bars as the narrator says the fortress was made into a prison. A corridor of the fortress as the narrator says the first prisoner was Peter the Great's own son, executed on his father's orders. We see the cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. Inside the cathedral along one of its main halls, the camera moves in on a large chandelier at the back of the room while tourists walk about below it and we hear a choir singing.
A row of 18th century houses lining the river in St Petersburg. Another row of houses in front of a river with a bridge in front of them, and people walking across. Another cathedral with a domed roof. The narrator explains how the architecture of the city was influenced by France, and Byzantium, as we see a third cathedral with pillars and teardrop shaped roofs. A close up of the Byzantium styled cathedral as the narrator states the Russian orthodox church has many links with Byzantium. A long palace with fountains in front of it that the narrator claims is styled on the palace at Versailles. The garden with a row of fountains, the narrator says the palace became a summer residence for the Russian court, tourists walk up stairs past the fountains. The winter palace for the Russian royal family, and a square with people and cars moving past, the narrator says it has so many rooms you walk 20 miles in order to see them all. The Crimean coastline from a hilltop with trees, it appears very sunny. Another summer palace, a white building with pillars and palm trees by it. A large forest and an open path with mountains behind it, the narrator states that the royal family built up estates. The steps of another palace entrance as a woman climbs them, the narrator explains how rich the royal family became. A statue of a male tsar in white stone, probably marble, from the side. The narrator describes how the czars mimicked the French styles, and we see a female statue too, and that they spoke French rather than Russian. We see an interior of the palace, probably a dining room, decorated with rich imported goods. A close up of some gold ornaments and trinkets. A still of a Russian tsar in uniform. A still of a Russian aristocrat, female, with straight hair. A still of another female aristocrat with ringlets. A row of female peasants being watched by a man. A group of peasants standing by their shacks, and three little girls in the corner, the narrator speaks about how the rich aristocracy unbalanced the systems of economics and rule. The summer palace again, then a courtyard with trees. Ornate metal shutters from inside a palace. A photograph of the last Russian royal family, the camera moves in on Nicholas II in the centre, the narrator explains how he abdicated in 1917.
A still of the provisional government formed after the czar, sitting in a semi-circle in front of a large platform. Still of Russian soldiers during World War One crouching in a group. A still of Lenin, who was the leader of the Bolshevik party against the government in which they were a minority. A still of the warship that fired the first shot of the revolution. A close up of the deck with a large gun, which the narrator says sailors who supported the revolution fired on 25th October 1917. The camera moves across the winter palace which the narrator says was stormed and overthrown. Extreme close up of Lenin's face. We see another palace near St Petersburg from which Lenin organised the revolution. Close up of the red flag on top of the palace roof. A picture of Nicholas II as the narrator states the czar's rule was over we hear a gun shot. The statue of the car before, we hear a gunshot. We see each of the portraits we saw before, followed by a gunshot, a choir sings in the background. A still of a voting table with two women sat behind the desk while voters file past, the camera moves in on the women while the narrator talks about the free election organised after the fall of the czar. The still of Lenin again as the narrator explains how his party lost the election, yet he saw the winning party never took power. The map of St Petersburg again, the St Petersburg label disappears and a label for Moscow appears, as Lenin made Moscow the capital. We see a still of a large white house with pillars where Lenin spent the last years of his life. A still of a dining room in the house. A still of a small library. A close up of a telephone, over which Lenin heard of the fall of agriculture and famine. Another picture of Lenin as the narrator explains he was partially paralysed by a bullet wound. A still of Lenin's bedroom where he died, 21st January 1924. We see his house again from the gardens, the narrator claims it is preserved as a museum. We see a still of the stables where his car is kept . A still of Lenin's car, a Rolls Royce fitted with caterpillar tracks and skis to tackle harsh Russian winters. We see the Lenin square with an austere square building that holds Lenin's body, the camera moves in for us to see a large ornate building next to the tomb, tourists walk around the square. A long queue of people waiting to enter the mausoleum. Close up of the queue by the entrance. Close up of the embalmed body of Lenin.
A still of Stalin in a cloth cap. A still of Stalin embalmed and surrounded by flowers, the narrator states that he was placed in a tomb with Lenin, but soon removed. We see a row of tourists dressed in the fashion of the 60's, they are pointing and the camera follows their fingers to the wall of the Kremlin which holds a plaque commemorating Stalin, who the narrator claims was responsible for the death of 15 million of his subjects, the camera moves back to the tourists.
A large boat sailing up the river by a bank with trees and an avenue of buildings set on it. A view of probably Moscow, with a few tower blocks in the background and the river and trees in foreground while the narrator talks about modern Russia. The camera moves uphill on a road following a white car with buildings on either side. A a main street in Moscow with cars driving and pedestrians walking. Another main street. A tram drive past as the narrator claims Moscow covers about 125 square miles. A corridor of an underground railway station with a statue at the end, the narrator says it was opened in 1935. We see a carriage on the underground full of people, and then a close up of two boys. We see the Red Square with people walking about. The wall of the Red Square, with a clock tower at one corner. Close up of the clock at 11, we hear the chimes which the narrator says are heard every hour on Moscow radio. Inside the walls of the Kremlin where a few soldiers and tourists walk about, the narrator says this would be unheard of in Stalin's time. A view of the Kremlin from one side and people walking by it, the narrator says the building dates back from the 12th century. The bell tower of Ivan the Great. Close up of the huge bell next to the tower that has never been pealed. A montage of stills from 3 cathedrals that are museums now, containing tombs of some of the Tsars. The modern hall of congress with cars driving past, built in 1961. A view of the Grand Central Kremlin palace where the head of the Soviet sits. A view of the Kremlin palace from the side. A montage of three pavilions, each representing a republic under the USSR. A large fountain decorated with gilded statues of men and women in Russian national dress. A cartoon map of the USSR with the USSR label flashing up on the screen. Point of view - the camera moving along a main road through some pillars into Leningrad behind a line of traffic. A busy street with a pedestrian crossing. A line of 18th century townhouses with a woman in the foreground overlooking a river in Leningrad, the narrator says these houses are left over from the time of the czar. We see a long row of townhouses behind a fence from the other side of a road, a motorbike drives past. A statue of one of the czars on horseback. Tourists standing by the fountains of the summer palace. The Admiral building. An archway with pillars. A freight ship. A pedestrian crossing in Leningrad, the narrator says there are 4 million in the city. A montage of footage of Russian people walking around the city, four different pieces. A line of people cross a street after a line of commercial lorry traffic, the narrator claims few Russians own a car. A tram drives past, the main method of transport for Russians. We see the tram drive past. The narrator claims many Russians live in flats, we see a large block of them. A close up of a balcony on one of the floors of the block of flats, the narrator says lots of the flats are only one room and the kitchen and bathroom are shared. A montage of three stills of blocks of flats, the narrator says the government want everyone to live in flats. We see blocks of flats from a moving vehicle. A wooden house in the countryside. A broken down wooden house. The interior of a wooden house, with sparse formal furnishings. A small bedroom with two beds and a picture above them. A large state-owned department store called Ryn's. Customers at the entrance to a shop, the narrator says consumer goods are scarce in Russia. Customers standing by a counter. Some more people walking round a shop floor. Customers by a counter again. A large souvenir shop with tourists outside, the narrator claims foreign currency is accepted here so the Russians can obtain other currencies. Montage of images from a metal smelting plant. A train. An airplane, the narrator explains Russia make their own, it is consumer goods they lack. Long cargo boats floating down the river. A shop interior. A display of clothing. Some people leaning on a bridge.
A montage of images of a circus with people performing tricks with horses, the narrator is describing what Russians do in leisure time. An image of a theatre. A montage of images of two women enjoying a trip in a speedboat. Another speedboat going past, sailing into the dock. The camera, on a boat, comes into the dock while the narrator talks about Russian holiday resorts by the Black Sea. A crowded beach. A close up of a lady in a bikini. A family lying on wooden boards. Because the beach is not sanded. Another montage of people at the beach while the narrator explains that sections of the beach are divided up for the workers of different industries. A boat pulling into a pier with a steep rock face above it. Montage of footage of a boat coming in to dock at a pier. A square filled with people. A young couple sharing a drink. A montage of stills of the old palaces of the aristocrats, the narrator claims many of them are now sanatoriums. A family with children on the beach. Some boys on the beach, running. A circle of children in uniform dancing with their arms around each others shoulders, the narrator explains they are on the Young Pioneers summer camp, run by the state. The circle of children with the camera inside. We see a girl umpiring a tennis game. From an elevated seat, the camera moves down to see the children playing. Some girls and boys of about 15 sat on the ground, singing in the background. Some girls of about 16 in dresses, the narrator claims that at about this age young people in Russia join the Young Communist League. The narrator claims religion isn’t encouraged in Russia and many of the cathedrals in Russia are now museums, a montage of cathedrals. Montage of old women in headscarves going to church, the narrator says that religious instruction for anyone under the age of 18 is forbidden. A mosque.
There is then a montage of different people from the different republics of the USSR in various different styles of dress, etc. An image of the frozen northern Russian mountains. An image of the beach by the Black Sea. The deserts of the south east. The vineyards of the Crimean. A montage of images of Russian forests from a moving vehicle. The narrator remarks Russia is a land of many contrasts. The titles appear superimposed in white over images of Russian countryside.
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