I Remember You (Ali Khamraev, 1985)

Like Fellini’s Amarcord, whose title it recalls, I Remember You is a semi-autobiographical meditation on the past. Kim, a veterinarian, leaves Samarkand at the request of his seriously ill mother and heads on a voyage across Russia in search of the grave of his father who died during the war. Reflecting Ali Khamraev’s own personal history – his Ukrainian mother and Tajik father, his father’s death during World War II, his own subsequent voyage with his brother to find the grave – this poetic journey into the subconscious memory is rendered in images of extraordinary intensity and beauty and one of Khamraev’s true masterpieces.

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White, White Storks (Ali Khamraev, 1966)

In an isolated and conservatively traditional Muslim village in Uzbekistan, a married woman, Malika, falls in love with a soft-spoken foreigner, Kayum, who has brought liberal Soviet attitudes and principles to the community, sometimes setting himself against the subordination of the town’s women by their male counterparts. Tensions rise as Kayum and Malika openly grow closer, raising the ire of Malika’s father and her husband as well as among those interested in maintaining the village’s old ways. A breakthrough film for Ali Khamraev, White, White Storks is a beautifully rendered docudrama that combines the textured honesty of Italian Neorealism, the family dynamics and tragedies of Yasujiro Ozu, and the poetry of Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying.

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Seventeen Moments of Spring (Tatyana Lioznova, 1973)

Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions.  Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.

Eclipse LogoVirtually unknown in the West, Tatyana Lioznova’s 12-part mini-series Seventeen Moments of Spring is Russia’s most popular and acclaimed TV production, playing annually to millions of viewers since its release in 1973.  Soviet spy Maxim Isaev (Vyacheslav Tikhonov), working in deep cover as a prominent SS officer named Max Otto von Stierlitz, receives direction from Moscow in February 1945 to gather information on peace talks rumored between the Americans and Nazis and frustrate any efforts that might allow the Germans to focus all their military power to the Eastern Front.  What follows is a complicated battle of wits set within the Nazi administration with mortal consequences for Stierlitz and all of the USSR.  This methodically suspenseful and widely successful espionage thriller celebrates the Russian war effort during World War II, valorizes the nation’s security agencies through the patriotic and canny Stierlitz, and subtly critiques Soviet bureaucratic authority in an era of thawing Cold War relations.

Includes the original version and the 2009 colorized version, with notes by historian Stephen Lovell.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Twentieth Century Approaches (Igor Maslennikov, 1986)

Eclipse LogoIgor Maslennikov concludes his Sherlock Holmes cycle with his most ambitious adaptation, weaving together no less than four of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales into an epic film of spies and secrets.  Set against the backdrop of increasing tensions between European nations, The Twentieth Century Approaches sees Holmes and Watson return from apparent retirement to investigate foreign counterfeiters, track down diplomatic papers and submarine plans, and thwart German agents working on British soil.  Maslennikov contrasts Holmes’s highly personal and methodical approach to his investigations against the accelerating and arousing technological advances of mass media to produce an insightful and reflexive view of a changing era.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Treasures of Agra (Igor Maslennikov, 1983)

Eclipse LogoIgor Maslennikov merges Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Sign of the Four and his story “A Scandal in Bohemia” to create the fourth film in his Sherlock Holmes cycle, The Treasures of Agra.  Here, Holmes ruminates on having matched wits with Irene Adler, an American opera singer at the center of a potential scandal involving the hereditary King of Bohemia.  With Adler still occupying his mind, Holmes investigates the case of Mary Morstan, who searches for her missing father, an unknown benefactor who sends her a single pearl annually, and a missing family treasure.  Holmes traces the mystery back to grudges originating in colonial India, while Watson tries to keep his growing emotions for their client in check.  Culminating with a steam launch chase, The Treasures of Agra deftly blends locked-room murders and exotic detail with romantic longing, requited and unrequited.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Hound of the Baskervilles (Igor Maslennikov, 1981)

Eclipse LogoSherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson explore the return of a monstrous ghost dog that curses the Baskerville line and threatens its only heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, freshly returned from Canada to assume his inheritance.  The pair travel to Baskerville Hall on the Devonshire moors and seek out a logical explanation for this supernatural problem, only to find a series of suspicious characters and blind alleys complicating their investigation, each delay placing Sir Henry farther into the beast’s deadly maw.  This adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most popular work is often considered the best of Igor Maslennikov’s Sherlock Holmes cycle, notable for its ominous exterior settings and its strong comedic content.

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