Critic Reviews for Arsenal
Although one is impelled to be in thorough sympathy with its argument against war, one cannot but help feeling that one-fourth of the footage of this production would be ample for one sitting.
More clearly influenced by Sergei Eisenstein than any of Dovzhenko's other pictures, it's certainly the one that uses fast editing in the most exciting fashion.
Represents the summit of Soviet cinema and remains one of the most poetic and visually beautiful of all Russian films.
A work of a thousand images which blends the historical and the mythical along with the raw and the formalized
Audience Reviews for Arsenal
Dovzhenko's grim telling of a Bolshevik uprising against against a bourgeois Ukranian nationalist movement, resulting in a bloody munitions factory strike. The camerawork and editing are phenomenal, and the film packs a lot of punch. However, much of it is confusing and I needed the audio commentary to clear up a lot of the context (the commentator also notes that Dovzhenko often preferred cryptic narrative styles). I liked it quite a bit more than Earth, though.
Ukraine's struggle for independence, in the turbulent late Czarist era, is used as a backdrop for this didactic paean to the Working Class. Even more patronizing than Dovzhenko's "Earth", though no less brilliant from an editing perspective. We are left with a series of images, drawn out for unreasonable lengths, that fail to connect organically with one another. The sequence of the soldier tripping on laughing gas, intercut with the silhouetted execution of a pacifist, is chilling. Along with the train crash and climactic urban warfare, "Arsenal" creates wonderful spectacle. Too bad the ending is so awful, hammering you in the face with the nobility of our hero, who might as well be named Everyworker, that it comes across as parody. As is typical for propagandistic fare, the story doesn't really end so much as display "RISE UP, COMRADE WORKER" in huge block letters.
don't you dare watch if you like things that come anywhere close to cohesion or a plot. what this is does not constitute a story. it is a one-note painting of soviet propaganda. this film is filled with moments of sheer genius (the excellent use of silhouettes and parallel juxtaposition comes to mind) and moments of sheer incompetence, and many of them are congruent. for example, in ninety percent of closeups the actor stands still, and some of these are in dialogue. there is dialogue for horses at two points. and these are not near the maximum when it comes to the departure from the literal or the realistic. this film represents a zenith of montage-based abstraction.
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