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Films with clips: titles beginning with Y

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Yaroslavna, koroleva Frantsii (Igor Maslennikov, Soviet Union, 1979)

Soviet epic that tells of the two year journey of Princess Anna Yaroslavna from the court of 11th Century Kiev to Paris to marry the King of France. Needless to say, hardship and squalour mark the times.

Art direction is very good, with some stark imagery in the usual understated colour palette. The film has its faults though. Being 'scoped rather than using the more pleasing traditional full-frame picture format makes for some unattractive and alienating compositions. And some of the music seems overly mellow and Westernised.

The point is that Elena Koreneva as the Princess will be so aged by the end of her trek that you wouldn't blame the King for sending her straight back. She looks too old already at the start though, and together with her spoilt petulance she's too unsympathetic a character to make sharing her journey very enjoyable.

Kino Teatr Russia link

Yunost geniya (Elyor Ishmukhamedov, Soviet Union, 1984)

Youth of Genius, from the Soviet Union, is a picturesque look at the early life of Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna. He was an important link between the ancient and modern worlds by all accounts, though exactly what concrete contributions he made to science this film fails to enlighten us upon.

It aims for an Arbabian Nights feel, but the photography is a little bland, and the music insipidly modern. Nice enough overall, but the other-worldly magic that Soviet cinema often has compared to its Western counterparts is lacking. Plotwise things are hard to follow, with much of the first half given to the meanderings of the young scholar and his pretty female playmate. Later on events turn towards the morbid and even weird: Avicenna performs a very strange medical operation on his sweetheart (Rano) as a young woman for instance.

A highlight is a colourful outdoor religio-scientific ceremony with a big burning straw glider and lots of white-gowned virgins splashing in the river.

Kino Teatr Russia link

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