1577. CHAPAYEV (1934-USSR). Directed by SERGEI and GEORGI VASILIEV. One Of the master pieces Of the Soviet cinema: Chapayev is a vivid, multi-leveled biographical/historical drama that remains as gut-wrenchingly powerful today as when first released. The film is adapted from a biographical novel about the legendary, individualist Red Army leader and military strategist who battled the White Russians in the 1919 Civil War, he book was written by Dmitri Furmanov, who had been Chapayev’s political commissar. The scenario details Chapayev’s various dilemmas, conflicts, adventures and exploits during the Civil War. While the commander is portrayed as a heroic revolutionary leader, he also has a fallible, human side, which adds to the film’s effectiveness. Furmanov is played as the logical, agreeable counterpart to the ever-exuberant Chapayev. The battle scenes are most effectively staged. Of particular note is the While Army’s “psychological” attack, which begins with their mechanically marching toward the Reds. Long seconds pass; not a shot is fired, and the Red guerillas become panic-stricken-until bursts Of machine gun fire set the battle in motion. Also, the final, extended sequence is a stunner. While all the action seems spontaneous, it was carefully choreographed by the filmmakers (who were known as the “Vasiliev Brothers,” even though they were not related), and shot over a two-year period. In order to realistically recreate the setting, much Of the film was shot on actual locations; for further input, the directors and actors sought out actual Civil War veterans and relatives Of those portrayed in the scenario, and listened to their recollections. Chapayev is unique among Soviet films in that it was acclaimed by Communist Party members, the government, intellectuals, and the public. Stalin himself lauded it as a Òsuccessful portrayal Of the great historical importance Of the struggle for power Of workers and peasants.Ó The Big Three Of Soviet filmmakersÑEisenstein, Dovzhenko and PudovkinÑall heaped praise on Chapayev. After seeing the film, you’ll understand why. In Russian with English subtitles. 94 minutes. Historical Drama