Le Tombeau d'Alexandre (The Last Bolshevik)

Le Tombeau d'Alexandre (The Last Bolshevik)

Chris Marker | 
France |
 1993 | 
116 minutes

THIS FILM IS PART OF THE FRENCH FRENCH PROGRAM. 

CINEMATHEQUE MEMBERS WILL RECEIVE A DOXA MEMBERSHIP FOR ALL 7 FOIS CHRIS MARKER SCREENINGS. 

“It all began in Brussels’ Film Library (‘Cinémathèque Royale’) when my friend Jacques Ledoux, the flamboyant conservator, received a package of brand new prints from Moscow. In it, classics like Eisenstein, connoisseurs’ choice like Barnet, and one totally unknown: Schastye (Happiness) by A.I. Medvedkin. Ledoux hadn’t ordered it, he didn’t even know the man’s name. Apparently, one hidden hand had thrown that bottle to the sea of Cinémathèques, hoping for a welcoming creek.” –CHRIS MARKER

So begins Chris Marker’s expansive, nay, insanely encompassing portrait of his friend and colleague, Aleksandr Ivanovich Medvedkin. The film’s opening scene begins with Medvedkin assailing the screen and stating: “Chris, you lazy bastard, why don’t you ever write to me, send me a letter, even that short...” So begins this epistolary film, composed of six different letters, each corresponding to a period of Medvedkin’s life and work. As Marker notes in his affectionate and often painfully funny film, Medvedkin was largely unknown, carefully omitted from the history of Soviet Cinema. This despite the fact that he was involved in some of the most radical of film experiments including the Kinopoezd, a moving film studio, carried about on a train car, complete with labs, editing stations, and cameras. Films were shot, edited, and screened within the space of a day. But the work created didn’t go over well with the Party leaders, and was shelved almost immediately, never to be seen again. From the October Revolution through to Perestroika, Medvedkin’s life itself often resembled a Russian novel. (Something Gogol might have penned in a particularly mordant mood.) But Marker’s humour and obvious love for his friend buoys the proceedings.

The film is Marker’s post-mortem answer (and tribute): “Dear Alexander Ivanovich, I couldn’t tell you then all I wanted to. Now I can. And all I have to say about you and Russia will be much more than this little space embraces, but let’s go...” -DW