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A JOURNEY OF DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH

SYNOPSIS:
Near the end of his life, in 1974, Dmitri Shostakovich, the Soviet Union's most famous composer set sail on the cruise ship, Mikhail Lermontov, for America. Soviet historical and propaganda footage, together with ample quotations from Shostakovich's writings, are used to give a window on his life story, which also spans twentieth century musical and world history. Footage from his musical works, such as the operas The Nose and Lady Macbeth, are included.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
By no means a biography or even a particularly revealing snapshot of Dmitri Shostakovich - despite excerpts from his own letters - this doco will be of interest only to his fans and to music colleges, museums and archivists. The timing of the composer's arrival in this world in1906 in St Petersburg ensured that he would be shaped by the enormous upheavals of the Russian revolution and the political climate that followed. But the documentary, loosely structured around his passage on the maiden voyage of the Soviet liner, Mikhail Lermontov, is fragmented and jumbled with propaganda material; perhaps that stuff helps us understand the times and their influence on him but I find it offputting, knowing what we know of Stalin's reign.

George Watts reads the letters by the composer, inviting us to identify with him (even though he sounds nothing like the Shostakovich we hear in a couple of clips); but Watts also reads narration, newspaper reports and concert reviews in Pravda, for example, which confuses our responses to the voice. There are clips from the era (early 20th century Russia) which don't explain themselves or seem to belong in his story; perhaps they are meant to conjure up the fashions and pastimes of the people.

Still, there are highlights, including footage of some performances. These are highlights for their novelty value, though, not the quality of the musical recordings!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

A JOURNEY OF DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH (G)
(US/Russia, 2006)

CAST: Documentary featuring Dmitri Shostakovich

VOICES: George Watts, Helga Landauer

PRODUCER: Darya Zhuk

DIRECTOR: Oksana Dvornichenko, Helga Landauer

SCRIPT: Oksana Dvornichenko, Helga Landauer

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Juliy Olshvang

EDITOR: Vladimir Samorodov , Alexander Sokin

RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sharmill

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: March 6, 2008; Melbourne/Adelaide/Canberra: tba







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