Lev Kulesov's legendary "constructivist Western" (adapted from a story by Jack London) was a highlight of the Soviet Cinema of the 1920s and one of the most popular films of its time. Upon finding gold in the Yukon a group of prospectors descend into murder. The survivors are facing an existential choice. The DVD presents a new transfer of the film and a contemporary score by Austrian composer and musician Franz Reisecker. As an extra it includes the only surviving fragment of Kulesov's Vasa znakomaja, featuring sets by avantgarde artist Aleksandr Rodcenko.
Po zakonu (By the Law / Dura Lex) - Soviet Union 1926 - Directed by: Lev Kulesov - Written by: Viktor Sklovskij, Lev Kulesov, adapted from the story "The Unexpected" by Jack London - Cinematography by: Konstantin Kuznecov
Cast: Aleksandra Khokhlova, Sergej Komarov, Vladimir Fogel, Petr Galadz?ev, Porfirij Podobed - Produced by: Goskino, Moskau - Premiere: December 3, 1926, Moskau
Vasa znakomaja (Your Acquaintance) - Soviet Union 1927 - Directed by: Lev Kulesov - Written by: Aleksandr Kurs, V. Amarin, Lev Kulesov - Cinematography by: Konstantin Kuznecov - Cast: Aleksandra Khokhlova, Petr Galadz?ev, Jurij Vasilc?ikov, Boris Ferdinandov, A. C?ekulaeva, Aleksandr Gromov - Produced by: Goskino, Moskau - Premiere: Oktober 25, 1927, Moskau
Po zakonu (also know as Dura Lex) was the cheapest film produced in Russia (perhaps even still today); at the same time an absolute masterpiece, the greatness of which stems from its very minimalism. The minimum effort required for the story-development (Kules̆ov constantly claimed, he happened upon Jack London's story "The Unexpected" quite by chance), the minimum number of characters (just three for most of the film), a minimum of inter-titles and lines of dialogue, a minimum of locations; a clearing not far from Moscow (posing as "Alaska") and a cabin - the perfect setting for a stripped-to-basics chamber play.
Even if the juggling of shot composition and length (Kulesov's notorious "Americanism") is not as artistically ambitious as in his previous work, it is still apparent how close-ups dominate inside, whilst outside, in the snowy landscapes and riverscapes, long shots reign, seemingly to the point of halting all movement.
Bilingual 16 page booklet.