Sunday, January 27, 2013

Silent Sundays: The Red Dance (1928)



“If Russia in revolt were as kind as you… I would have no fear for its future.”

                        Like many silent films The Red Dance is melodramatic and could have ended much sooner than it did. It is also a perfect example of how Hollywood takes events from history and twists them to the breaking point for entertainment.
            The story takes place during the October Revolution in Russia at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Grand Duke Eugene (Charles Farrell) is given orders to retreat during a battle. He asks his superior officer why he was given the orders to retreat. The superior officer tells him he was given the wrong orders by someone looking to sabotage them. To receive his real orders Eugene is sent to Petrograd. In the city he meets the queen and her daughter Princess Varvarra. The princess tells Eugene that she is afraid of a peasant uprising. He tells her the peasants are most likely being lead into it by someone. Turns out the czar’s advisor is behind the revolt. The advisor thinks Eugene has learned too much. Eugene wants to learn all he can about the peasants so he can help them. Someone tells him the best thing he can do is marry Princess Varvarra which will help him learn about the peasants.
            Tasia (Delores del Rio) is a young peasant girl. Her father has been put in jail for life because he was taught teaching children. Her mother was killed in front of her years ago when she was also caught teaching. Now she lives with friends in a house on farm. Tasia wants to bring her people out of the insufferable oppression they are in. While working out on the farm a lusty soldier named Ivan Petrov comes after Tasia. He wants to marry her and so do her friends. Tasia does not want to marry the soldier she wants to wait to find her true love. The friends have Ivan sign a marriage contract.
            Tasia was reading a book in the house. The one friend caught her reading and starts smacking her. Eugene, on his way to Petrograd, sees Tasia being beat. He stops the old woman from hitting Tasia. Eugene observes the farm. The old woman says that the czar takes their food and the Cossacks attack them. Eugene tells the woman he needs a guide to the czars lodge, if Tasia can be his guide he promises to have the Cossaks stop attacking them. The rebels hear about Eugene wanting Tasia as his guide. They think she can be very useful to their cause. That night Tasia runs to Eugene at the lodge in the middle of the night. They forget about class and enjoy each other’s company. When Tasia returns to the farm the following morning Ivan has gotten totally drunk and forgot they were supposed to have been married the night before. They both decide they were not right for each other and forget about getting married. Ivan still loves Tasia and remains loyal to her.
            Eventually the peasants revolt and the attack the government. Tasia has become a chorus girl in a show. The peasants find Eugene and plan on killing him. Ivan finds Tasia and tells him about Eugene. She tries to save him before he is killed. Luckily Ivan also helps since he knows how much she loves the Grand Duke.
            I got bored with the story pretty quick. I also had a bit of a hard time following the story but that is nothing new for me. not being able to follow the story probably had something to do with the fact that it was boring and, as I mentioned, being a melodramatic romance.
            Delores del Rio and Charles Farrell were good together. From what I did pay attention to I liked their characters. The best character was Ivan Petrov played by Ivan Linow. His character was funny and sweet. The first time I saw Petrov I hated the character I hated him because he attacked the main character and he wanted to marry her right away when she did not want to. But as the film went he was one of the best.
            Raoul Walsh did not do a bad job directing the film but this is not the type of story you would expect from him.
            The Red Dance is an alright silent film it is definitely not one of the best. You cannot watch it as a true historical piece it is so dramatized. Watch The Red Dance only if you are a fan of either Delores del Rio or Raoul Walsh.