WHEN the Russian Revolution had been successfully concluded, the Russian studios were bankrupt and virtually useless. Actors and directors fled first to the Crimea, then to Germany or, more of them, to France. Everything had to be reorganized, a task which was not completed until 1925. Up to that time the real Russian films--though few recognize it today--were those made by the Czarist émigrés in Paris, where they continued the work that they had started during the war and with the same personnel, with Protazanov and Volkov and, even more important, with Mosjoukine. Their work was strange and chaotic, sometimes overclever, and destined to die out or to become denationalized in exile, but it produced some attractive films immediately after the war. Meanwhile in the U.S.S.R. other men on the track of new cinematic laws and theories were laying the groundwork for Eisenstein and Pudovkin's future success. Here it is well to consider how it was that this nation, cut in half by the turn of events, nevertheless contrived to express on the screen the unity of the Russian genius.
It was at Montreuil, first with Yermoliev and then with Albatross, that the Russian exiles tried to preserve both their customs and their ideas about films. It would be foolish to consider them as a branch of the French film, since their producers, directors and actors and even at times their financial backing were Russian. Rather were they a branch of old Russia planted in new soil. Of course, as the genuinely Russian firms disappeared the group was broken up, actors took engagements elsewhere, either in France or abroad, and directors likewise. But for a few years this bit of Russia-in-France preserved its entity. Naturally the ideas of French directors influenced these people; in fact it might almost be said that their chief ambition seemed to be (and they were