The avant-garde thriller Po Zakonu is his masterpiece. Based on Jack London's The Unexpected, Po Zakonu is the story of five gold prospectors who find themselves trapped during a savage winter in the Yukon.
Commentaries and bibliography
Kuleshov’s adaptation of a Jack London novel follows gold-diggers on the banks of the Yukon in Alaska. This silent film has been restored by the Austrian Film Museum and will be accompanied by live music composed by Franz Reisecker. Closing film of the Red Western programme.
Three men, one couple, one dog; all searching for gold on the banks of the Yukon in Alaska, the home of the gold rush. Everything runs smoothly at first, then Dennin suddenly shoots two of the prospectors. And then there were three. Nelson and his wife Edith (Alexandra Khokhlova) subdue the murderer. The corpses are taken away and buried; Dennin is tied up in the cabin and kept under constant guard. None can leave, as the ice and snow have begun to melt, flooding the Klondike Fields.
By the Law is an absolute masterpiece, the greatness of which stems from its very minimalism. One can label By the Law a formalist action film, a Western psychodrama or an experimental study in bigotry. There is as much of the silent Westerns of John Ford as there is of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed and Charles Chaplin’s The Gold Rush in By the Law.