Found in: Slapstick 2019
Happiness (1934)


classified 12A

Slapstick 2019


Please note: This was screened in Jan 2019

Aleksandr Medvedkin
Pyotr Zinovyev, Yelena Yegorova, Nikolay Cherkasov
95 mins, 1935, Russia
Primary language

In this Russian comedy-drama a hapless loser (with the surname of Loser) undergoes a series of misadventures with avaricious clergy, a tired horse, and a stolen granary (among other things) on his road toward collectivised happiness.

Khmyr is a poor, idle peasant who dreams of becoming a tsar, but who mostly enjoys eating his fill of pork and doing nothing (his idea of happiness). So when his industrious wife Anna, who found real happiness on a collective farm after the Russian revolution, sends Khmyr out in search of happiness, he unfortunately finds his quest is hampered by priests, officials and other freeloaders along the way.

One of the last Soviet silent movies, this rare and often hilarious example of socialist slapstick is grounded in the eccentricities of Russian folk culture. (The film was actually banned in Russia for 40 years because of its anti-Bolshevik humour!) Director Aleksandr Medvedkin's infectiously happy oddity emerged surprisingly from a slough of social-realist orthodoxy, and prompted none other than Sergei Eisenstein to the admiring tribute: 'Today I saw how a Bolshevik laughs.'

Screened with the original synchronised score.