In 1926 a movie was released that embodied all the characteristics that socially and politically active Soviet filmworkers and critics had demanded for the new Soviet picture-it dealt with contemporary problems, it had a plot and a hero; its style was realistic; it was entertaining and easily comprehensible. The pedigree of its obscure young director, moreover, was a propagandist's dream. He was a genuine proletarian, a party member, and a former Chekist.
The film was Katka the Appleseller; the director Fridrikh Ermler. Before the decade ended, Ermler produced three more movies that firmly established him in the forefront of Soviet cinema directors. These films, when considered together, present a coherent critique of Soviet society from the point of view of a political activist, and they laid the basis for one of the leading genres of Soviet cinema: the bytovoi film-a term used for films dealing with contemporary life.
THE EARLY FILMS: KATKA THE APPLESELLER, THE PARISIAN COBBLER, HOUSE IN THE SNOWDRIFTS AND FRAGMENT OF AN EMPIRE1
Although Ermler had directed two previous films, Katka the Appleseller was the true start of his remarkable career as a chronicler of Soviet life. Narratively, the film is a simple melodrama exposing the "dark side" of society during the New