Films By Joris Ivens, Program One

Two early and key sound documentaries by the great Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens. Komsomol (1932, 50 min.), which I haven’t seen, is a tribute to young workers in the Soviet Union as they build a blast furnace in the Ural Mountains. Also known as Song of Heroes, it was the first collaboration between Ivens and composer Hanns Eisler, and reportedly the first film ever made by a foreigner in the USSR. Power and the Land (1940, 33 min.), the first of Ivens’s many American films during the 40s, was commissioned by Pare Lorentz for the U.S. Film Service, cowritten by Ivens, Edwin Locke, and Stephen Vincent Benet, shot in part by the great Floyd Crosby, and scored by Douglas Moore. A stirring look at the coming of electricity to post-Depression farms, it concentrates on a particular family in Ohio that Ivens lived with, and it’s not unworthy of James Agee and Walker Evans’s classic book about Depression sharecroppers, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Critic Elliott Stein has rightly called it Norman Rockwell without the mush. (JR)

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