Schastye (Happiness) (1934)
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Critic Reviews for Schastye (Happiness)
Audience Reviews for Schastye (Happiness)
In "Happiness," Khmyr(Pyotr Zinovyev) is a peasant who suffers through life. To make matters worse, he even has to watch his grandfather die in his attempt to steal some very tasty looking cake from a prosperous neighbor. So, he decides to hit the road, leaving behind his wife Anna(Yelena Yegorova), where even finding a merchant's wallet cannot alleviate his misery, as life goes on. With its peasant protagonist and random shots at clergy, "Happiness" would rate as an average piece of Soviet propaganda if not for its innovative use of a camera in what defnitely look like crane shots and an influential use of surrealism. Plus, it helps that writer-director Aleksandr Medvedkin keeps things moving throughout this silent film, even with the fractured narrative.
A hapless farmer gets sick of religious hypocrisy, trying to keep up with bourgeois, and being taxed by the tsar, and so he learns to love the collective. Communist comedy? Socialist slapstick? Yes, it's a Soviet propaganda film with a Buster Keaton comic sensibility. The movie is often greatly exagerrated, part expressionist and part absurdist. It also has a dark edge to it, with not one but two gags about suicide. And it's even funny. It does get a little confusing at times, but according to one poster on IMDb, some scenes are missing. Bizarre and unexpected.
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