Fragment of an Empire

Oblomok imperii

An exquisitely observed story of an amnesiac Tsarist conscript from the First World War who returns to his present mind ten years after the Communists gained power.

Dir Fridrikh Ermler
Scr Fridrikh Ermler, Ekaterina Vinogradskaya
With Fiodor Nikitin, Yakov Gudkin, Liudmila Semionova
Russian Federation
Prod Co Sovkino

Arriving home after 10 years, an amnesiac soldier gives out an agonized cry, “Where is Petersburg?”, as he stands lost in the new cityscape of Soviet Leningrad. Fridrikh Ermler’s Fragment of an Empire has been referred to as the most important film in Soviet Cinema. It’s a bold claim, but justified by the synthesis of a powerful personal story and the critique it allows of the revolution as seen by a soldier stuck in a Tsarist past. The film opens in the chaos of a bloody battle in 1914 and follows with an extraordinary evocation of the main protagonist’s returning memory. As played by regular Ermler lead Fiodor Nikitin, his response to the social changes he sees is both moving and politically astute.

Bryony Dixon

Additional information

Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and Frank Bokius.

Restoration by San Francisco Silent Film Festival and EYE Filmmuseum in partnership with Gosfilmofond of Russia.