Thursday, November 22, 2007


Forgotten for a half-century, Kote Mikaberidze's MY GRANDMOTHER (CHEMI BEBIA/1929) is a delightful example of the Soviet Eccentric Cinema movement as well as an irreverent satire of the then still-young Soviet State system. Noted for its anarchic styles—which include stop-motion, puppetry, exaggerated camera angles, animation and constructivist sets—the film unspools the foibles and follies that abound when a Georgian paper pusher, modeled after American silent comic Harold Lloyd, loses his job. Beth Custer created a quick-paced pastiche of American jazz and blues, contemporary classical, and world folk music.
My Grandmother was heavily influenced by eccentrism, a Russian movement indebted to both pop culture and the avant-garde. Its most obvious precursor was Dada--the eccentrics were known to disrupt plays with whistles and rattles--and it drew on native absurdist authors as well. But its chief inspirations were American. The Eccentric Manifesto, published in 1922, includes a list of the eccentrics' "parents"; among them are jazz, boxing, "the cry of the auctioneer," "the jacket of a cheap pulp thriller," and "American song and dance routines," the latter identified as their favorite form of ballet. The eccentrics loved vaudeville, advertisements, and machines; "the 200 volumes of German expressionism," they wrote, "do not offer the expressivity of one sole circus poster."(more on Ein Hod Babushka)

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