enough plot served as the groundwork for the film--the story of a woman, seduced by her father-in-law, who bears a child by him. Yet it was not the naturalism which struck us, it was the pictures of the harvest in the midst of which suddenly tolls the bell of the war of 1914; the wedding of Ivan; the beautiful peasant women bundled up in their skirts washing in the river; and the Fete of the Assumption. The censors mutilated this film, leaving it only its simple charm, but we must not complain too bitterly--the images it provided are powerful enough without propaganda or antitheses.
In all these poetic documentations, men count less than the four seasons and the eternal earth, the collective effort, the beauty of the world. Here the Russian genius, independently of social and political forms, has expressed with magnificent amplitude a sort of grave good nature in which youth and hope are perfectly blended. They have put new life into the Sunday-school lessons because they have become a matter of life or death for these people; because they believe in them. They have carried us back, innocently, to the first age of the world and to Adam digging the fruitful earth, and this is the most extraordinary adventure that has befallen the cinema.
AFTER 1923 the American film enjoyed an untroubled prosperity. That happy time disposed it to all sorts of adventures: stars earned unheard-of salaries, fortunes were spent on sets, on landscapes created for a week or two, on orgies that were seen only for a moment. These were the whims of a nouveau riche, but what was their real value?
Except for the comedies, it is astonishing to find how insignificant American production was during that period of pros