A rarely seen early Soviet satirical comedy, the conceit is of a young woman, Parasha Pitunova, who leaves her home in the country to travel to Moscow in search of a relative, who it transpires has just left to return to the country. We then see her misadventures at the hands of unscrupulous employers, but later, when she stands to be elected to Moscow city council, Parasha finally receives the respect she deserves. The film employs the innovative Russian editing techniques of the period.
Introduced by Ian Christie, Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, who curated the film elements at the Royal Academy exhibition marking the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Ian, the UK’s foremost film academic, has been a very good friend to ABCD for many years, introducing and discussing many films.
Dir: Boris Barnet 64mins USSR 1928
The New Economic Plan is currently the official line – state capitalism within the framework of the workers’ state. Mr. Golikov, who lives in a house on Trubnaya, runs a hairdressing salon and wants to engage someone to run his household but doesn’t want a pesky type who wants to join a trade union. Paranya (Parasha) seems to fit the bill and is taken on – but she is elected to the Moscow Soviet of People’s Deputies by her fellow domestics. Not what had been expected!
“[…]The House on Trubnaya Square, showed [Barnet’s] ability to use all the tricks of the avant-garde and yet still make popular cinema. The outstanding open travelling shot of the stairway of the apartment block where all the residents are carrying out their everyday tasks and the freeze frame in the middle of a sequence showing the heroine’s day in Moscow with an intertitle stating that they had forgotten to explain how the heroine had come to Moscow in the first place are evocative of both Eisenstein and Vertov but in the case of Barnet all possible techniques (narrative as well as cinematic) are used in the construction of a comedy. As Ian Christie has
noted, Barnet found a ‘progressive’ path toward a popular and indigenous Soviet cinema that didn’t abandon those formal achievements acquired by the pioneers of Soviet cinema (Christie in Albera & Cosandey 81) Giuliano Vivaldi, Bright Lights Film Journal
Parasha Pitunova – Vera Maretskaya
Mr Golikov (the hairdresser) – Vladimir Fogel
Mrs Golikova – Yelena Tyapkina
Lyadov – Sergey Komarov
Marisha (the maid) – Anel Sudakevich
Fenya – Ada Voijtsik
Uncle Fedya – Aleksandr Gromov
Director – Boris Barnet
Production Company – Mezhrabpom-Rus
Production Design – Sergei Koslovsky
Writers – Bella Zorich, Victor Shklovsky,
Anatoli Marienhof, Vadim Shershenevich, Nikolai Erdman
Cinematography – Yevgeni Alekseyev
- A masterpiece – what a treat!
- Great fun!
- A real gem
- Never seen anything like it – really enjoyed!
- Straightforward story but I enjoyed it. Many thanks to Ian Christie
- Really interesting introduction and discussion. Thank you
- Ian Christie gave an interesting insight to this Russian film-maker not known outside his native homeland. Barnet’s film was a technically solid comedy, showcasing creative sets and cinematography. Mike’s reading of the translation [sic] helped throughout the film
- Great cinematography, movement and energy
- Funny and energetic but pacing could have been better
- Good to see some proper, powerful trade unions
- Very much of its time – music rather monotonous
- An interesting choice – a sort of Soviet Keystones!
- Interesting but I would need to see it again to make sense of it
- Just too confusing and chaotic for me but greatly helped and interpreted by Ian Christie. Christie excellent, film dodgy
- Fairly dreadful, with music a la Michael Nyman – not a lot of laughs, really
- To some extent, this film was spoilt by the jarring, harsh music
- My attempt to follow the plot was numbed by the relentless loud music
- Music got a bit repeptitive towards the end. Marvellous microphone man
- Much too noisy