In one of the last silent films to be produced in the Soviet Union, Alexandr Medvedkin tells the story of a peasant’s quest for happiness: this odyssey of a small man begins when his father dies while trying to steal his wealthy neighbour’s dumplings. After a promising beginning, he must stand his ground against greedy clergymen, corrupt helpers of the tsar and even his own lazy horse. Medvedkin dedicated this film to "the last lazybones of the collective farm", sketching out this man’s journey to the collective as a series of exaggerated, slapstick missteps which can only lead to one realisation: the old system must be abolished and a new one must be created. The film did not attract much attention in the West until the 1960s, thanks in part to Chris Marker, who used excerpts from it in his film Le tombeau d'Alexandre (1993).
by Alexandr Medvedkin
with Pyotr Zinoviev, Yelena Yegorova, Lydia Nenasheva, V. Uspenski, G. Mirgoryan
USSR 1935 Russian intertitles 77’ Black/White


  • Pyotr Zinoviev (Khmyr)
  • Yelena Yegorova (Anna, his wife)
  • Lydia Nenasheva (Nun)
  • V. Uspenski
  • G. Mirgoryan


Written and Directed by Alexandr Medvedkin
Cinematography Gleb Troyansky
Production Design Alexander Utkin

Produced by


Additional information

35mm print from the collection of the Austrian Film Museum.

Alexandr Medvedkin

Born in 1900 in Penza, Russia. He attended an engineering school before fighting for the Red Army as a volunteer in 1919. In 1927, Medvedkin started out by directing military educational films, followed by experimental satirical short films. In 1931, Medvedkin started working on the project ‘Cinetrain', in which he equipped a train with an editing room, a laboratory to develop film and screening facilities. Medvedkin's film work was rediscovered in the late 1960s. In 1973, Chris Marker focused on Medvedkin's ‘Cinetrain’ in his documentary Le train en marche. He died in 1989.


1930 Derzhi vora (Stop Thief / Haltet den Dieb) 1931 Pro belogo bychka (About a White Bull-Calf / Über das weiße Stierlein) 1932 Pro Liubov (About Love / Von der Liebe) · Dyra (The Hole / Das Loch) 1936 Chudesnitsa (The Miracle Worker / Die Wunderbare); 78 min. 1938 Novaya Moskva (New Moscow / Das neue Moskau); 100 min. 1939 Tsvetushchaia iunost (Blossoming Youth) 1941 My zhdem vas s pobedoy (We Await Your Victorious Return / Wir erwarten euch mit dem Sieg); co-directed by Ilya Trauberg 1954 Pervaia vesna (First Spring / Der erste Frühling); co-directed by Iosif M. Poselsky 1960 Rasum protiw besumija (Reason gainst Madness / Vernunft gegen Unvernunft) 1965 Mir V’etnamu (Peace to Vietnam / Frieden für Vietnam) 1971 Noch nad Kitaem (Night over China / Nacht über China) 1979 Bezumie (Madness) 1984 Trevoga (The Alarm)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020