Making its debut at the Vue ciema in Kirkstall on the 10th of November, Margy Kinmoth’s Revolution: New Art for a New World is a fascinating, if slightly dense insight into the Russian revolution, and its relationship with art. The Documentary gets under way by outlining the beginnings of the revolution itself, using stock footage and transcripts of Lenin (performed by actors) to do so. These initial minutes (excluding an intriguing montage of the periods most influential pieces) are somewhat reminiscent of a documentary one might watch in a secondary school History class. However, they are engrossing, and do lay the groundwork of what is to come.
Kinmoth goes on to explore in depth, the significant impact that the revolution had upon Russian art, and vice versa. The film is overtly passionate in its examination of the artistic movements of the time, as the audience is taken through the avant-garde development of Russian art. Kinmoth’s love of this topic shines throughout her film, as she chooses to spend extended periods discussing with academics, great works from the likes of Kandinsky, Malevich, and lesser known genii such as Patrov FIlnov. In this passion, lies the film’s greatest strength and its most notable weakness. It is undeniably fascinating to hear about how the Lenin regime attempted to use avant-garde art for its own ends. However, there if a brief period towards the middle of the film that seems ‘bogged-down’ by its own intellectual rigour.
Things do pick-up again towards the end of the documentary, as it explores the horrific effects of the Stalinist regime, on both the artistic community and the nation as a whole. This decidedly dark yet fascinating turn means that the overall impression is a satisfying one. This is indeed an accomplished documentary. However, perhaps it is only for those who are already interested in avant-garde art.