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Monday, January 29, 2018

Abram Room, Bed and Sofa, 1927

Третья Мещанская (Bed and Sofa), 1927
film poster
(image source: movpins)
no copyright infringement intended

We'd expect a Soviet movie to be framed in some Soviet canons. Well, with many Soviet movies of the twenties, simply it's not the case. Look for instance at this Третья Мещанская (Bed and Sofa), created by Abram Room in 1927. It's the story of a ménage à trois à la russe, started (and keeping on) due to the huge housing problems of those years, and evolving into something that could suggest kind of a same-sex resolution.

It's Moscow of the twenties, housing problems are huge, it's far from the period of continuous development of huge ugly projects with myriads of small anonymous apartments. Right now it's just that, an old city with an ever growing number of people coming in, and it's impossible to find a dwelling for everyone. It comes that anyone finds a solution on its on, sharing bed and sofa and even more.

Some say that this movie alludes to the tempestuos story between Majakovsky and Lilya Brik. I don't know whether it's the case. Simply the Soviet mentalities of the twenties were unexpectedly free when it was coming to the gender issues, putting men and women on an equal footing on anything related to family, attitude toward sex, conjugal fidelity and ejusdem farinae. All this would radically change a few years later, but by then it was just the decade of the twenties. Anyway a wonderful comedy, full of tempo, and full of warmth, of sympathy for each hero, the wife and the two men.

A bit about the actors. Let's mention firstly Lyudmila Semyonova, playing with wonderful subtlety in the role of the wife. I saw her also in a much later movie, from 1961, The Steamroller and the Violin, the first oeuvre of Tarkovsky. Nikolai Batalov was in the role of the husband. He was an interesting actor, unfortunately he died too young and played only in ten movies throughout his life. I already watched three of them (and maybe I will come here with the fourth). His namesake, Aleksey Batalov (no relation between the two) would make a much, much longer career. And Vladimir Fogel in the role of husband's friend and competitor, he was one of the leading actors of his generation (the best, as Pudovkin would state later). He died tragically in 1929, being only 27 years old. Despite his brief life he played in fourteen movies.

Lyudmila Semyonova
(image from Bed and Sofa)
source: listal
no copyright infringement intended

(Abram Room)


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