Storm Over Asia

aka The Heir to Genghis Khan (Potomok Chingis-Khan)
USSR 1928. Dir: Vsevolod Pudovkin. 95 min. 16mm

Pudovkin’s last great silent work is, with Mother and The End of St. Petersburg, part of a loose trilogy of Pudovkin films about the awakening of revolutionary consciousness in the face of tyranny. In Soviet Central Asia during the Russian civil war, a nomadic Mongol trapper, taken for a descendent of Genghis Khan, is set up as puppet ruler of Mongolia by British interventionist forces. Gradually, he comes to realizes that he is being used to oppress his own people, and turns against the imperialists who control him. A tour de force of luxuriant visuals, hyperbolic symbolism, ethnographic detail, and virtuoso editing, the film, a popular success at home and abroad, was criticized by Soviet officials for its “formalist indulgence.” Pudovkin remained active in the sound era but never again achieved such magnificent heights.

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