Russian film poet Evgeni Bauer combined the technical virtuosity of D.W. Griffith with the haunting terror of Edgar Allan Poe and the artist’s eye of Johannes Vermeer. He is — perhaps — the greatest film director you have never heard of. During his brief four-year career, Evgeni Bauer created macabre masterpieces. They are dramas darkly obsessed with doomed love and death, astonishing for their graceful camera movements, risqué themes, opulent sets and chiaroscuro lighting. Tragically, Bauer died in 1917, succumbing to pneumonia after breaking his leg.
For many decades, Bauer’s films were buried in the Soviet archives — declared too "cosmopolitan" and bizarre for the puritanical Soviet regime. But with the fall of the Iron Curtain, Bauer’s work has risen like a glorious phoenix out of the ashes of time.
Twilight of a Woman's Soul (1913), Bauer's first surviving film, tells the story of a society woman who kills her rapist and — in its aftermath — must make a new life for herself when her husband leaves her. After Death (1915), adapted from a story by Ivan Turgenev, explores one of Bauer's favorite themes: the psychological hold of the dead over the living. In The Dying Swan (1916), an artist obsessed with the idea of capturing death on canvas becomes fixated on a mute ballerina.
After Death and The Dying Swan star Vera Karalli, the legendary ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo. Karalli’s colleague, the great Alexander Gorsky, choreographed the dances in many of Bauer’s movies including these two films. Restored by the Russian state archive Gosfilmofond and featuring brilliant new scores commissioned by the British Film Institute, Mad Love is a must-have collection for all lovers of film. Watching these extraordinary films is the cinematic equivalent of peering into the Tsar’s magnificent Fabergé Eggs.
The DVD includes a 37-minute documentary film essay on Evgeni Bauer by Russian film scholar Yuri Tsivian and a stills gallery.
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