Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s “Earth” to screen in L.A.
The memorial plaque on the house in Kharkov, Ukraine, where Aleksandr Dovzhenko lived. | Wikimedia (CC)

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Workers Center and Hollywood Progressive co-present the Soviet Ukrainian revolutionary classic film Earth (Zemlya). It is part of a series, Ten Films That Shook the World: A Cinematic Centennial Celebration of the Russian Revolution.

Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s masterpiece Earth is about class struggle in a rural Ukrainian village, pitting poor peasants against “kulaks” (rich landowners). Class conflict erupts after the Bolsheviks make a tractor available to the underdeveloped farming sector as a harbinger of the socialist future.

Under Dovzhenko’s lyrical direction, Danylo Demutsky’s stunning cinematography captures on celluloid indelible images and scenes. The poetic pictures pairing peasants with sunflowers are simply unforgettable, expressing the oneness of the farmer with the land which the Revolution is giving those who till it. Earth’s sequence where the tractor needs water and how the menfolk solve the problem is amusing and—well—earthy.

In Jay Leyda’s seminal movie history book Kino, Sergei Eisenstein’s American film student wrote, “Earth was one of the few acknowledged classics of the Soviet and world cinema.” In his obituary of Dovzhenko, Eisenstein’s Hollywood collaborator Ivor Montagu wrote: “No artist in any medium has torn more rawly at the heart-strings,” adding that Earth had a “truly dialectic perception of the oneness and continuity of the universe.”

Indeed, the 75-minute Earth is sheer cinematic poetry in motion, one of the most beautiful black and white and silent films ever shot. It is also the only feature in the centennial film series made in the 1930s, marking the end of the period of avant-garde Soviet cinema.

Earth screens on Fri., Aug. 25 at 7:30 pm, at the L.A. Workers Center, 1251 S. St. Andrews Place, L.A. 90019. This address two blocks west of Western Ave., and is accessible only from W. Pico Blvd.

This screening of Earth is the seventh in a monthly film series running through November 2017 to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the February and October 1917 Revolutions in Russia, and 1905’s mass uprisings. All 10 films screened during these 10 months are Soviet cinema classics, among the greatest political films ever made. See the entire schedule at:

Before each screening a speaker briefly introduces each film and filmmaker. After the movie the speaker will make additional remarks, followed by a Q&A. Light refreshments are served. These black and white, silent films, with English subtitles, and musical soundtracks, are screened under imperfect conditions, although this is a chance to see them projected on a big screen. Admission is free, although donations and potluck contributions are accepted. Screenings start at 7:30 pm on the fourth Friday of each month, except for the last, on Nov. 7. Film historian/critic Ed Rampell, author of Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States, is the series’ programmer/co-presenter. For info:


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.