Dom na Trubnoy (1928) Poster

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Charming, inventive Soviet comedy
runamokprods26 February 2012
The first half of this is flat out brilliant; very funny, full of inventive photography, great sets and subtle acting for a silent film.

It loses a little something as it goes along and struggles a bit to work in some politically correct Soviet propaganda, but still manages to maintain a terrific sense of humor and a joyfully playful camera-work.

A 19 year old girl and her duck come from the country to Moscow (thinking her father was there, but of course he's just left to return to the country).

All sorts of comic misadventures ensue as she has no place to live, and ends up as a maid in an apartment in the titular building. How she deals with her comically evil employers (who only hire her because she isn't in a union, so they can abuse her) makes up the 2nd half of this beguiling comedy.

If you enjoy this, I'd also recommend director Barnet's "The Girl With the Hatbox" another breezy, sweet silent comedy about life in the Soviet Union in the late 20s.
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Charming comedy, lacks the overbearing quality of much of Soviet cinema
There exists a traditional Russian story about a young woman who leaves her village to go the city and is taken advantage of by an unscrupulous man. Her experience in the city is very negative and she returns to the countryside, where she is treated as an outcast. This is the story that inspired the movie House on Trubnaia Street. Whereas the traditional cautionary story is very much a tragedy, Barnet takes it and transforms it into a story of hope for the then fresh and nascent Soviet society. It is a Soviet movie, but it is in no way heavy-handed, nor does it try and shove anything down your throat, in fact Barnet transforms the story into a comedy.

In this film, the young lady from the village, Parashka, gets taken on as a maid in an apartment in the house on Trubnaia Street, where she is abused by Golnikov the Barber and his wife, a Lady Muck type. The story departs from tradition with the entrance of a charming young union worker who visits the apartments looking to sign union members up. The union is a route whereby Parashka will have recourse if she is beaten or paid unfairly. It's also a place where she can go and meet other young people, who are shown as being boisterous and enthusiastic.

The story could have been played straight, but would have become obvious agitprop. As it is the freedom to stand up against abuse here is shown as something invigorating and innocent, rather than as bloodthirsty or intolerant, and the whole situation is played for laughs. I think the movie has been mistaken by one reviewer who has called the ending doctrinaire, I won't spoil the ending, but I think the reviewer may have seen a threat as an actuality.

Golnikov is quite an amusing sort, he is very put upon by his wife, who rarely rises from her bed. He works hard but also is expected to do all the cooking and housework. Abuse is shown in the movie as cyclical, after the arrival of Parashka, he passes the abuse on to her. Another way of putting it is that abuse in this film is shown very much as an infectious disease, rather than as something to castigate particular individuals for, which I think displays the humanistic credentials of the director. Golnikov is played remarkably well by Vladimir Fogel, who unfortunately died a year later in his late twenties. His short but glittering career highlights included working on several famous films with luminary directors of the time: with Kuleshov on "By the Law"; Abram Room, in another charming Soviet film, "Bed and Sofa"; Pudovkin in "The End of St Petersberg; and on the famous short film Chess Fever, again with Pudovkin.

I might mention as well that the film is shot very well although it is not so formal that it is academic. There are very wistful shots, for example one of the great domes of Moscow is shown reflected in a puddle at daybreak, the puddle is disturbed and an intertitle comes up that suggests the city is having its morning washing, which is exactly the impression of the rippling that the viewer sees in the puddle.

For me the great scene in the film perhaps is at the start where we see the staircase of the apartment building which rises up about seven floors, all in one frame, a Babel in the morning where folks rise and begin their noisy cleaning, wood chopping and gossip, oblivious to the effect they are having on others, a slapstick cacophony.

Might be doing the circuit at good city cinemas shortly, was the great discovery of last year's Pordenone silent film festival (currently the premier global festival for silents).

This review is for Claire, who couldn't make it and will be seeing Avatar with me instead :)
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A comedic surprise from the USSR
mgmax6 October 1999
Apart from a somewhat heavy-handed doctrinaire ending, this is an unexpected delight from Soviet Russia-- a comedy about the residents of an apartment house that includes one of the most screamingly funny practical jokes played on an audience in movie history.
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Communist Social Reality Satire
FerdinandVonGalitzien26 October 2006
According to the "Aristokratische Enzyklopädie" one of the most important characteristics of the communist people it is that they like to do things as a "community" (as it happens with the screenplay of "Dom Na Trubnoy" written by 5 reputed scriptwriters!). When it comes to their fondness to share property and prosperity, at the first opportunity those rules are betrayed without any remorse…as is depicted in this film. When a tough, zaftig Russian girl, named Paranja, goes to Moscow, with her only companion a goose (those interesting animals that can be transformed in "foie gras") searching for her uncle Fiodor she ultimately becomes a servant of a barber and his idle wife. Due to such a strange Bolshevik situation, very soon Paranja becomes class-conscious.

"Dom Na Trubnoy" (The House On Trubnay) was directed by Herr Boris Barnet - a not very well-known Russian film director. This presents another Bolshevik contradiction according to that aristocratic encyclopaedia because this great director has a likeness for… comedies!

Boris Barnet's films are excellent shows of superb timing and thrilling editing (this film it is an excellent display of incredible camera movements and various techniques, including, for example, elegant travel shots, long and foreground shots of the chaotic scenery around the Trubnay house). The picture is made of comic stories based mostly on daily situations with touches of bitterness (making it a kind of Communist social reality satire). That's not to mention the political content but this last subject is always perfectly incorporated into the storyline, without stridencies and as an extra factor that enriches the story.

Due to those Boris Barnet's film characteristics, it made of him a bizarre "rara avis" in Russian silent film; these comic films are a special surprise for the silent fans, communists or not. And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must be careful with the possibility of the awareness of the class-consciousness of the servants.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien
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Good film; one can find it on Flicker Alley's Landmarks of Early Soviet Film set
zetes16 August 2015
Boris Barnet, best known for his 1933 film Outskirts, directs this fun little comedy with, of course, a social message. It wouldn't be a Russian film without one! This one isn't particularly preachy, and it isn't as forceful as what one might be used to with Russian silents. It's quite nice and enjoyable. Vera Maretskaya plays a country bumpkin named Paranya who arrives in Moscow seeking employment. She arrives at an apartment building on Trubnaya Street. Among the many people living there are a pretentious married couple, the Golikovs, who have an aristocratic heritage they'd rather not forget, damn the revolution. Mr. Golikov employs Paranya but forbids her to join the worker's union. It's kind of impossible to avoid the union, though, and Paranya is swept up in it, much to Mr. Golikov's chagrin. This film isn't montage heavy, but Barnet does use the technique in his own unique way when he needs it. The filmmaking in general is strong. I didn't love the film. I had a bit of a difficult time following the story at times (perhaps just because I was tired). It's quite enjoyable, though.
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Little Peasant in the Big City
zachary-0337327 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The House on Trubnaya faces a dilemma that seems a frequent occurrence in my limited exposure to Soviet Cinema; how do you balance art and entertainment, while concurrently sowing the seeds of ideology during an age of social reconstruction? Because of the difficulty of successfully maintaining multiple positions (the entertainer, the artist, the politician), the overall strength of a film is diminished through its diffusion of themes (by modern non-Soviet standards at least). All this isn't to say that the film isn't enjoyable in parts. As a comedy, the film successfully produces a few laughs especially in the first half of the movie. Paranya, the protagonist, is a very sympathetic character as the rural peasant girl in the big city of Moscow. The combination of the actress' performance, her wardrobe, and the basket she carries her duck in produce a feeling of internal warmness; perhaps (from an outsider's perspective) indicative of the monolithic essence of the hard but simple national character. She arrives in Moscow a relic of recent history in a modernizing city of bustling crowds and machines. The differences of every day life in the city and countryside create much of the humor and establish possibly the film's greatest sequence, during which Paranya chases her duck through the traffic of Moscow's streets. The chase's conclusion and subsequent narrative backtracking, is really pretty shocking for a film in an era where the vast majority of films followed an unflinching track of linear progression. (The sequence is echoed much later in Fernando Meirelle's City of God in the chicken chase through the streets of Brazil).

The aforementioned balancing act becomes problematic in the second half of the movie when we realize that Paranya isn't actually the protagonist. The worker's union is supposed to be the real hero of the story. Paranya is minimized to the face representing the collective. As a maid, she is exploited and berated by her employer, Golikov, for the majority of the film's remaining time. Her subsequent empowerment through the worker's union is supposed to be a consolation to the viewer. Golikov is told by a government official that Paranya is to be paid for her unused vacation days in addition to him serving jail time. Unfortunately this doesn't come off as much more than cheap ideological comfort in the place of emotionally engaging narrative. For the time period during which it was released, I can understand how the film was successful. The film is technically polished and has a couple of set pieces that are incredibly well done (the stair case with its strata of life and the aforementioned duck chase).In addition, the film is fairly informational regarding the rights of the common worker, allowing it to serve as a simple educational tool for the masses. However, compared to another Soviet film like Bed and Sofa, its unabashed tendentiousness blankets its potential as a truly rewarding work of entertainment or art.
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