Outskirts

(aka The Patriots) (Okraina)
USSR 1933. Dir: Boris Barnet. 92 min. DCP

Relatively unsung, but admired by several giants (including Godard, Rivette, and Tarkovsky), Boris Barnet, a disciple of Lev Kuleshov, was one of the finest Soviet filmmakers of his time. The ambitious Outskirts, Barnet’s first sound work, is an enduring Russian masterpiece. The film is a tragicomedy set in a small town on the Russian-German border during WWI. Its drama of rising nationalism, divided loyalties, and revolutionary fervor includes Yelena Kuzmina as a young Russian woman who falls in love with a German POW. Outskirts impresses with its visual and aural expressiveness and Chekhovian sensibility. “One of the best films made anywhere in the ’30s — droll, pathetic, powerful, charming, and atmospheric” (Georges Sadoul). “It’s rare that a textbook classic proves wildly exciting to watch years later, but this sure does” (Tony Rayns, Time Out).