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Titles and names in bold print contain more complete information
1916, 24 mn 
Black and white, silent, fiction

Silk Web

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Шелковая паутина


 La Toile de soie

 Sholkovaya pautina

Directed by : Yuri YURIEVSKY (Юрий ЮРЬЕВСКИЙ)
Produced by : Alexander DRANKOV (Александр ДРАНКОВ)
Other persons :
Cast: - OGINSKAJA (Vanda Livinskaja)
- Boris PRONSKIJ (Von Gumberg, spia tedesca) .

Plot synopsis
Two cans of nitrate, terribly dry, fragile, sticky, with almost no perforation, were regularly and proudly demonstrated to colleagues who visited Gosfilmofond as The Worst Two Reels in the collection. It was a matter of principle to do the best we can. The technical work was conducted in 2015 by Haghefilm Digitaal who stood up to their reputation: almost 500 meters of the existing 600 have been preserved. The film is still very incomplete, but the plotline is clear and evident. It’s a story of a woman who is tricked into signing a contract with officers of the German intelligence and has to spy on a Russian engineer whom – naturally – she falls in love with.
We know little about those who made Šëlkovaja Pautina . There are no records of the cameraman’s name – which is a pity since today the most attractive aspect of this film are views of old St. Petersburg. The capital of Russia was by no means the capital of Russian filmmaking: until the mid-1920s Moscow was miles ahead both in experimental and commercial cinema. With only a dozen surviving films from St. Petersburg this one is an important rediscovery.
Practically all the names connected with Šëlkovaja Pautina have a dubious reputation. Aleksandr Drankov, a producer-adventurer, is responsible not only for the very first Russian fiction film Sten’ka Razin (1907), but also for the very first Russian serial, the highly criticized and immensely popular Son’ka Zolotaja Ručka (Sonka, the Golden Hand (1914-15). The Russian audience was not as keen on meditative, static and psychologically pervert melodramas as it may seem today. There was a strong in- terest in action, particularly among the ‘democratic’ circles. And that was ex- actly what Drankov offered along with his leading director Juri Jur’evskij: pure action, no time for psychology. Nikolaj Breško-Breškovskij was a perfect match for such a team: his spy stories were despised in ‘good society’ and kept beneath the pillow.
Protazanov and Bauer were to remain in the annals. But it was such films like Šëlkovaja Pautina that kept the industry running. Whether we like it or not.

Peter Bagrov

Selected in the following festivals :
- 'Il Cinema Ritrovato' Festival, Bologna (Italy), 2016

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