Mother (1926)

Vera Baranovskaya, Nikolay Batalov, Aleksandr Chistyakov, Anna Zemtsova,
Mat is a movie starring Vera Baranovskaya, Nikolay Batalov, and Aleksandr Chistyakov. The Film Version Of Gorki's Great Story Of The 1905 Revolution
  • 7.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Maxim Gorky, Nathan Zarkhi, Writer:
  • Vsevolod Pudovkin, Director:
  • Producer:
9 / 10

Great Russian Silent Film

This is one of the classic Soviet silent films. The story is about a family torn apart by a worker's strike. At first, the mother wants to protect her family from the troublemakers, but eventually she realizes that her son is right and the workers should strike. The plot is similar to other Soviet films of the era but does focus more on the individual than some of Eisenstein's films. The mother and son do represent the collective but they are also strong characters on their own.

The best part of the film is the editing. It is always sharp and quick. When there is action, the edits are fast and give the viewer a sense of chaos. The Soviets were masters of montage and this film is a prime example. The acting is also better than in most silent films. It is clear that the actors come from the serious stage and not Vaudeville. The cinematography is somewhat average, though, and the film feels a little flat at times. It is not perfect, but it is worth seeing for all and essential viewing for those interested in Russian film or montage.

7 / 10

It's basically propaganda, but I'm sure that it's all true.

Released right after "Battleship Potemkin", "Mother" shows a woman forced to choose between siding with her labor-organizing son or her corrupt husband. The movie makes double sure that we get to see the living conditions in Russia in 1905, but it also uses ice as a metaphor. There are a few scenes where we see ice breaking up on the ocean; it basically shows that the old order is slowly but surely coming apart. I have to admit that this is the only Vsevolod Pudovkin movie that I've ever seen, but it's certainly a good one, if only as a historical reference. A noticeable difference between Eisenstein and Pudovkin was that Eisenstein was into typage (meaning that he liked to choose any random person who looked right for the role), while Pudovkin was very fixated on whom he wanted.

7 / 10

Historically relevant, technically innovative, yet slightly overrated

Максим Горький (Maxim Gorky), the novel author, has a direct link with the origin of cinema, as he was one of the first to write about it; on the 22th of June in 1896 Gorky witnessed one of the earliest film productions of the Lumière brothers, an experience that would be the basis for 'in the realm of shadows'.

Gorky was impressed by film's potential to be an universal language, the ability which Мать (Mother) illustrates by adapting his written work to the screen so even the illiterate Russian people could understand his story.

Всеволод Пудовкин (Vsevolod Pudovkin)'s style is more akin to the social realism (although this is influenced by the fact that the novel can be categorised as social realism) that Stalin would prefer, in contrast to the more abstract and jarring montage of Сергей Эйзенштейн (Sergei Eisenstein).

A particular form of montage that he used in this film is worth mentioning, namely the fragmentation of action. Pudovkin 'cuts' the action into several different shots that only show a part or fragment of the action, when assembled in a montage the viewer's mind fills in the blanks (cf. Gestalt psychology) to create the illusion of a complete action. The most known example of this technique in Film is probably the shower scene from Psycho. This in itself proves the impact the Russian film school has had on film practices in general.

To conclude, Мать (Mother) is historically important and on some parts technologically innovative. However, if it seen on itself and in comparison to other works of the time, for me it does not hold up as well as most film theorists and critics would have you believe.

7 / 10

Mother review

Vsevolod Pudovkin makes a thunderous debut with this adaptation of the Gorky novel of the same name that takes place immediately before the revolution of 1905. Steeped in the traditions of Soviet montage, Pudovkin's film explores the consequences of a mother's desire to protect her revolutionary son with a style that is both strident and unrelenting, but which avoids Hollywood-style sentmentality while never losing sight of the tale's human perspective.

7 / 10

A solid film

Pudovkin's Mother is a strong film that refused to be bound by the limitations of its time and should remain interesting to contemporary audiences. The plot of the film is simply outstanding. While some would say it was to be expected since the film is based off of a novel by Maxim Gorky, it should be noted that good source material does not guarantee cinematic success. The film follows a mother and her revolutionist son, Pavel, as they navigate a series of difficulties resulting from her son's allegiance.

With no speech, a major challenge for silent films is the creation of multidimensional characters. Pudovkin overcomes this challenge by being able to capture the emotions of the characters. I thought the mother, was exceptionally interesting. Her struggle did not only represent that of a loving mother, but also that of a movement. Pudovkin make great use of the camera, whether it was a side profile emphasizing the pensiveness of the character or a well-timed frontal close-up, he facilitates our ride on this emotional roller-coaster.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the pacing of the film. While the pacing did vary in tempo, it was always well within its own "groove." Even in the extremely exciting conclusion, one did not get to feel the extremely fast-paced tempo of a Battleship Potemkin, which I believe speaks to the differences between the directors. On that note, it was interesting to see how Pudovkin's use of montage differed. His cuts were far more gradual and subtle when compared to Eisenstein's in Battleship which contributed to the stability of the film.

All in all, Mother was a good watch and one of the stronger films that we have seen.