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Bauer, Yevgeny Frantsevich

BAUER, YEVGENY FRANTSEVICH

(18651917), film director.

Yevgeny Bauer was the most original and important film director in prerevolutionary Russian cinema. In addition to directing, he frequently wrote, designed, and shot his films.

Bauer was born into an artistic family and graduated from the Moscow College of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. He worked as a theater artist and set designer before making films. Soon after going to work for the Khanzhonkov studio, he became their best-paid director with an alleged salary of 40,000 rubles. His life came to an early end in 1917: While preparing for an acting role near Yalta, he broke his leg in a fall, caught pneumonia, and died.

Bauer's films rank among the best early cinema melodramas, comedies, and psychological thrillers. His greatest films complicate melodramatic conventions to tell stories about people caught amid the cultural changes and political instability of the late-tsarist era. Bauer also specialized in the neo-Gothic psychological drama, exploring the dreams and obsessions of urban middle-class characters in an increasingly commercialized world. Typical Bauer characters search futilely for love and meaning in a chaotic world, in which adults lack authority and moral leadership and young people are willful, egocentric, and morally adrift.

Bauer delighted in inventing new ways for the film camera to tell stories. His experiments with camera movement, lighting, and set design created complex three-dimensional spaces. He employed furniture, architecture, fashionable clothing, special effects, and layers of gauzy curtains to animate the social world in which his characters lived and to penetrate the psychological worlds that contained their private visions. He used lighting particularly effectively to enhance the beauty and talent of his actors and the drama of a scene.

His films include Twilight of a Woman's Soul (1913), Child of the Big City (1914), Daydreams (1915), The Dying Swan (1916), A Life for a Life (1916), and To Happiness (1917).

See also: motion pictures

bibliography

McReynolds, Louise. (2000). "The Silent Movie Melodrama: Evgenii Bauer Fashions the Heroinic Self." In Self and Story in Russia, eds. Stephanie Sandler and Laura Engelstein. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Tsivian, Yuri, et al., eds. (1989). Testimoni Silenziosi: Film Russi, 19081919 (Silent Witnesses: Russian Films, 19081919). Italian and English. Pordenone, Italy: Edizioni Biblioteca dell'immagine; London: British Film Institute.

Youngblood, Denise. (1999). The Magic Mirror: Moviemaking in Russia, 19081918. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Joan Neuberger

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