Milestone Films

Early Russian Cinema, Volume Ten: The End of an Era



Traditional accounts of Soviet cinema have always stressed its difference from the Russian cinema of the Tsarist period, implying in the process that this earlier phase was actively hostile to social change. Not so, as we begin to realize from the tantalizing fragments that have survived. Indeed commercial producers were keen, as ever, to exploit topicality; and the eight months between 1917’s two revolutions of February and October saw a remarkable upsurge of “revolutionary” sentiment. The Revolutionary, released in April, actually provides a link into the post-October period, since its writer and star, Ivan Perestiani, went on to direct one of the few genuinely popular early Soviet classics, Red Imps, in 1923.

In 1917, the journal Teatr noted sardonically: “The film studios have come up with a number of pictures tailored to ‘the moment.’ They have paid their dues to society though they have taken their cut too. The Revolutionary and The Provocateur were produced hastily in two or three days and are distinguished neither by their plots nor by any originality in their production.” It went on to record, however, that The Revolutionary “is a vivid example of agitational cinema, and that it drew applause when shown.”

For Luck also marked a transition: a tragically early end to the career of Bauer, who died after an injury sustained while on location in the Crimea for this film; and an early appearance by the future pioneer of Soviet montage, Lev Kuleshov. Kuleshov was already working as an art director with Bauer, when he was asked also to play the part of Lee’s hopeless young suitor. The central scheme of the film — a daughter and mother both in love with the same man — and the extraordinary intensity brought to the final scenes, in which the daughter’s psychological blindness becomes physical when she is rejected, show Bauer at the height of his subtle powers.

Behind the Screen is no more than a fragment of the major two-part film, A Life Destroyed by Pitiless Fate, released in November 1917, by which time most of the personnel involved in it would have already moved south on their way into emigration. Its film studio setting, therefore, has a coincidental poignancy, a farewell to the Russian cinema by two of its greatest stars, Mozzhukhin and Lisenko.

THE REVOLUTIONARY (Revoliutsioner). Director: Evgeni Bauer. Screenplay: Ivan Perestiani. Photography: Boris Zavelev. Production Company: Khanzhonkov. Released April 3, 1917. Cast: Ivan Perestiani (Granddad, on old revolutionary). Vladimir Strizhevskii (His son). Zoia Barantsevich (His daughter). Mikhail Stal’skii (A dying convict). Also Konstantin Zubov, K. Askochenskii, Vasilii Il’in.

FOR LUCK (Zo schost em / K schost’iu). Director: Evgeni Bauer. Screenplay: N. Dennitsyna. Photography: Boris Zavelev. Art Director: Lev Kuleshov. Production Company: Khanzhonkov. Released March 9, 1917. Cast: Nikolai Radin (Dmitrii Gzkotskii, a lawyer). Lidiia Koreneva (Zoia Vrenskaia, a rich widow). Taisiia Borman (Lee, her daughter). Lev Kuleshov (Enrico, an artist). N. Dennitsyna (Lee’s governess). Emmochka Bauer (A girl). Aleksandr Kheruvimov (The doctor).

BEHIND THE SCREEN (fragment) (Kulisy ekrana). Alternate title: A LIFE DESTROYED BY PITILESS FATE (Razbita zhizn’ bezzhalostnoi sud’boi). Director/Screenplay: Georgii Azagarov (?) & Aleksandr Volkov (?). Photography: Nikolai Toporkov. Production Company: Ermol’ev. Released November 28, 1917. Drama in 2 parts. [Only one reel preserved.] Cast: Ivan Mozzhukhin (Himself). Natalia Lisenko (Herself). Nikolai Panov (Studio director). Themselves: Lirskii, Iona Talanov, and Andrei Brei.

This DVD is also available for Institutional Purchase, which includes public performance rights and a 3-year streaming license. Please click on the “Format” button and select “DVD Institutional Rate.”

 An Explanation of Home, Classroom, and Public Performance Rights

Individuals and non-profit institutions purchasing at the DVD, DVD-R, or Blu-ray rate — or streaming at published rental and sales prices — are authorized to use the film only for private home screening and legitimate classroom showing (a regularly scheduled class with an instructor present), per the United States Copyright Law. You can learn more about the distinction between classroom and public performance screenings here.


US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to show a film publicly outside of a scheduled class need to purchase DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate — which grants 3-year in-house streaming rights and an on-site public performance license. This in-house streaming license is for a term of three years from the date of purchase and grants the purchasing institution the right to stream over a single secure server with a password-protected connection. Streaming access must be strictly limited to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff. Streaming rights extensions can be negotiated with Milestone after the initial three-year term has lapsed. Milestone retains the right to terminate this agreement at any time. No broadcast, Internet or other rights are granted or implied.These rights are for on-site use only per the license agreement. For more information on 

Similarly, US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to show a film publicly outside of a scheduled class via Milestone’s streaming site must contact Milestone to arrange a separate public performance license. For more information, please email 

US and Canadian nonprofit educational institutions that wish to screen a DVD, DVD-R, or Blu-ray they already own in an open showing must purchase a public performance license. For more information, please email 

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Any continuous or loop screenings as part of a museum exhibition must also be licensed separately. Inquiries must be negotiated directly with Milestone by emailing

Information for Exhibitors Screening DCPs and Film Prints

All bookings must be made by phone or email correspondence with Amy Heller (201.767.3117 or to negotiate terms and insure a screening copy is available. An order is only finalized when Milestone sends a written confirmation.

DCPs are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing DCPs appear on your invoice. The immediate return or transshipment (as directed) of all DCPs is your responsibility.

DCPs should be returned to:

Milestone Film & Video
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Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640-0128
United States 

35mm and 16mm prints are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Please do not ship prints back via US Mail. Exhibitor pays to ship both ways. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing prints appear on your invoice. The immediate return of all prints is your responsibility.

Prints should be returned insured for $1,000 to:

Iron Mountain
Attn: Milestone Account
235 Main Street
Little Falls, NJ 07424

For public screenings, advertising materials can be requested by contacting

Milestone is the exclusive licensor for all the titles in this catalog, all of which are available here in their complete versions.


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