Alexander Dovzhenko : Poet As Filmmaker: Selected Writings

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9780262040372: Alexander Dovzhenko : Poet As Filmmaker: Selected Writings

The Ukrainian filmmaker Alexander Dovzhenko (1894-1956) is considered by many to have been one of the world's greatest film directors. Because of political problems, however, he was able to complete only seven feature-length films; these include his major works, Zvenihora, Arsenal, and Earth. "The films that I did complete," he says, "I made with love and sincerity. In those films lies the primary meaning of my life. They are meant to be poetic films, and contemporary life, with the common man at its center, is their chief subject."

This book is a translation of the following portions of Dovzhenko's writings: His Autobiography, which appears here for the first time in English and in which he writes, "My parents had many children—fourteen in all, a variable group of whom two survived, myself and my sister Polina, who is now a doctor. The other children died at different times, hardly any of them reaching working age. Now, when I think of my childhood and of my home, whenever I remember them, in my mind I see crying and funerals.... I still cannot bear to look at funerals, and yet they pass through all my scripts and all my pictures, for the question of life and death affected my imagination when I was still a child and left its imprint on all my work."

Dovzhenko's Notebooks combine a diary, a war journal (he was a correspondent in World War II), and sketches for films, stories, plays, and novels. They reveal him to be a gifted writer who incorporated his experience into powerfully visual images that often took epigraphical shape—"hanged men slip from their nooses and shatter like marble statues." "Random shooting. Death without a pose: he fell prone and hiccuped."

The Enchanted Desna is the first part of a planned autobiographical film tale. It is about Dovzhenko's real and imagined childhood: "We had a grandad who was very much like God. When I said my prayers, I would always look up at the corner where the icons hung to see the picture of Grandad in a robe of old silver foil, while Grandad himself lay on the edge of the stove coughing quietly and listening to my prayers....

"He was our good spirit of the meadow and the fish. He could pick more mushrooms and berries than even we children, and he talked to the horses and the calves, to the grass, to the old pear tree and the oak tree—to everything that lived, grew, and moved around us."

Filling out this rich portrait of the poet as filmmaker is an introduction by Marco Carynnyk, a bibliography of materials about Dovzhenko, a listing of all his published writings, a filmography that includes all his film projects whether realized or not, and a chronology of his life.

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Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)

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Editorial: Mit Pr (1973)
ISBN 10: 0262040379 ISBN 13: 9780262040372
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