The End of St. Petersburg, a silent movie shot in 1927, was commissioned to honor the 10th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Due to an inept projectionist last night at MoMA, we saw several reels twice, and some reels not at all, which actually made for an interesting moviegoing experience. Generally, propaganda means you always know the good guys from the bad guys. But the lack of a coherent narrative (we jumped straight from pre-war peasants to the climactic battle with the White Army) meant we could focus on the techniques, including expressionist closeups of the budding proletariat, sped-up film of manic bourgeois stockbrokers, and frenetic Eisensteinian editing. We could also concentrate on the live piano accompaniment.
MoMA will be showing several other Soviet silents during its Mezhrabpom: The Red Dream Factory festival. Even (especially?) if the movies are out of whack, it's well worth checking out.