Sunday, 6 April 2014

The New Babylon

Commune graffiti 



The film The New Babylon (Novyy Vavilon) was directed by Kozintsev and Trauberg in 1929. It is a sympathetic account of the history of the Paris Commune of 1871 and tells the story of two lovers who are separated by the fighting.

The film The New Babylon (Novyy Vavilon) was directed by Kozintsev and Trauberg in 1929. It is a sympathetic account of the history of the Paris Commune of 1871 and tells the story of two lovers who are separated by the fighting. The film was ultimately suppressed by the Bolsheviks for its anti-war message. It also contained a lot of formal innovations and the musical score for the film was written by the young Dimitri Shostakovitch. Guy Debord used extracts from the film in his own The Society of the Spectacle in 1973.


The film was something of a lost treasure, the film and those who worked on it particularly Shostakovich who scored it fell out of favour with the Stalinist regime so didn't enjoy a big run or distribution of film reels. As such it mainly survived in the West being past around by film clubs and cut up and inserted into documentaries and student films. There was however a project set up to remaster and release the film to DVD, that process was successful and you too can on this work of art for the low, low price of er £75.

Seriously that was the price the group that remastered it were asking for when I looked it up. So it remind pretty obscure, but then a light, one it seems that a group of musicians had acquired a copy, but curiously decided to remove the original score (which did survive and outgrow the film in the west) and substitute there own. 


After watching that I asked myself some questions, why? Who the hell are the Magic Lantern Show Orchestra and what are they playing at. But as far as I could tell it were the only freely available version of the film around. So what I did was mute the video and then play the original score here it is.

But after getting fed up of that I kept looking I eventually found another version with the original score in tact.

Here it is

It really is a great film of the silent era, and a rare look at the Paris Commune and the brutal repression by the French Army.

And yes there is now a torrent.


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