Happiness and Letter From Siberia | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Happiness and Letter From Siberia 

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A dynamite program. Happiness is the most famous and probably best film by the late, neglected Russian pioneer Alexander Medvedkin, "the last bolshevik" in Chris Marker's recent video of that title (see separate listing). This late silent film (1934) with a music track was only recently made available in this country on video (which is unfortunately the only way Chicago Filmmakers can show it, though it's a good transfer). It's a hilarious and daring surrealist masterpiece that combines some of the pie-eyed "magical realism" of a Gogol with what might be described as a mordant communist folk wisdom. On the same bill, one of Marker's earliest essay films, Letter From Siberia (1957), which provides an excellent introduction to his thoughtful, ironic style. Each picture is about an hour long; both are rarely screened and well worth seeing. Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Saturday, March 18, 8:00, 384-5533.

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