Film Review: Mother

Mother 1926
Mother 1926

Did you know there are over 60 movies with the title, Mother? So, which ‘Mother’ am I talking about? Is the French one from 1991, starring Omar Sharif? Is it the South Korean thriller from 2009? Is it the comedy from 1996 starring Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds? Or is the one of the many films from India, Iran, Japan, Turkey, West Germany, Finland or Italy? Nope, this review is about Vsevolod Pudovkin’s silent film epic Mother from 1926.

It should be no surprise that this movie, from the newly founded USSR, is about revolution. In this case, it uses Maxim Gorky’s novel (same title) and depicts the 1905 Russian Revolution though a family in turmoil. The son, Pavel Vlasov, finds himself drawn into the revolutionary cause while his father, Vlasov, supports the Tsarist regime. The mother, Niovna Vlasova, is caught between the two.

The beauty about this film is Pudovkin’s editing techniques and his implementation of the Montage theories. When you watch this movie, check out how he intercuts scenes that, seemingly, have little to do with each other. As modern viewers, we often overlook abrupt cuts, because we are accustomed to directors like Quentin Tarantino or Oliver Stone who aren’t afraid to break standard visual.

Though other films, such as Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925) and The Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929) get much of the attention for being leaders of the Montage Movement, it is Pudovkin’s Mother that stole the hearts of the workers and everyday people of the USSR.

Watch part one of Mother on You Tube. The sound isn't terribly great, but the entire movie is available in 11 parts.

Fun Facts

  • Pudovkin didn’t use professional actors for the major roles in this film since he wanted to enhance their realism. Instead, he used montage to emphasize emotions and angst.
  • D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance changed Pudovkin’s life and in 1919 he stopped going to school to be a chemist to work in film.
  • Because of the success of Mother, Pudovkin was the most successful and lauded from the government of all the Montage directors.
  • Much of what Pudovkin learned about editing was from Japanese scripts (or what he called hieroglyph) and from Japanese masks. He saw that when you put two fragments together, the whole gains more meaning.
  • Pudovkin fought in World War I and was a prisoner of war, hold in a German camp.

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5 comments

Ivona Poyntz profile image

Ivona Poyntz 4 years ago from UK

This looks good. And, as I can't rent it I shall be watching it on youtube as you suggest. BTW, I just saw Ali:Fear eats the sould by Fassbinder, which was great!


vmartinezwilson profile image

vmartinezwilson 4 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

Ivona,

This is really an intriguing film, with a lot of ties to the people of the USSR for that time period. I haven't seen Ali: Fear East the Soul yet, but I will check it out! Thanks a bunch.

Vanessa


Trsmd profile image

Trsmd 4 years ago from India

First time I am hearing a movie titled Mother and you have provided the review nicely here. Thanks for SHARING:)


wlionpage profile image

wlionpage 4 years ago from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

I don't have any word to share about this: D


vmartinezwilson profile image

vmartinezwilson 4 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

Thank you Trsmd and wlionpage

This movie is one of the more often ignore Soviet montage era films, but it was the most popular of its time. If you ever get an opportunity, you should give it a try.

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