Monday, February 12, 2007


A Soviet comedy by Boris Barnet. The Girl With The Hatbox is a rural girl who makes hats for a shop in the city. In order to have a bigger house than they're entitled to, the greedy shopkeepers convince the housing authority that the hat maker rents a room there. The girl decides to help out an unemployed artist she befriends by marrying him so he could live in 'her' room. The shopkeepers become resentful, and pay her with a lottery ticket instead of cash. Predictably, the lottery ticket pays off. Wackiness ensues.


Soviet films of the 20s were controlled by the state and had to conform to communist ideology. So their movies tended to be rousing stories of the common peoples' triumph over their bourgeois oppressors - basically, the films of Sergie Eisenstein. Another Soviet film from 1927, Pudovkin's End Of St. Petersburg about the 1917 revolution exemplified this.

I have no reason to doubt that Boris Barnet's commitment to communist ideals was anything less than enthusiastic, but this movie certainly doesn't have the same revolutionary zeal that can be found in the films of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, or Vertov. This movie is charming, light, and basically apolitical (maybe the bad guys who want more than they're entitled to are allegorically capitalists?).


It's refreshing to see a Soviet film that's not so serious minded, but it's this lightness that causes the film to age so gracelessly. Unapologetic propaganda such as Battleship Potemkin or Triumph of the Will maintains it's relevance as an historic document if nothing else.

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