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Envisioning Russia: A Century of Filmmaking

Thursday, October 16, 2008
6:30 p.m. Tractor Drivers
Ivan Pyryev (U.S.S.R., 1939)

(Traktoristy). Tractor Drivers is a fascinating work that manages to combine three Soviet obsessions of the 1930s: the enormous popularity of musical films, the Soviet glorification of technology, and the preparations for an impending war. Recently demobilized, Klim returns to his Ukrainian collective only to find his intended, Mariana, now a famed tractor driver complete with many male admirers. Klim bears down and masters tractor driving as well, and after a series of pratfalls and misunderstandings, the couple gets back together. But then the order goes out: all the young men are ordered back to their army units, where they’ll apply their tractor driving skills to the brand-new high-speed tanks fresh off the Soviet assembly lines. With music by Dmitry Pokrass, Tractor Drivers became the template for a considerable number of girl-boy-tractor romances, as well as the subject of innumerable parodies.

—Richard Peña

• Written by Yevgeni Pomeshchikov. Photographed by Aleksandr Galperin. With Marina Ladynina, Nikolai Kryuchkov, Boris Andreyev, Stepan Kayukov. (88 mins, In Russian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Seagull Films)