DRAMA IN A GYPSY CAMP NEAR MOSCOW (“Drama Near Moscow”) / DRAMA V TABORE PODMOSKOVNYKH TSYGAN (“Drama pod Moskvoiu”)
Russian Empire, The E. Osh and A. Khanzhonkov Trading House, 1908, 3 minutes
Scriptwriter, director, and cameraman: Vladimir Siversen
Cast: Gypsies from a camp near Moscow
According to the owner of the film company, Aleksandr Khanzhonkov, the film was conceived as “the first Russian everyday life picture”: a young gypsy, in a fit of jealousy, kills his beloved, and then commits suicide.
For the filming, gypsies from a camping ground near Moscow were invited. The effect of authenticity was created by shooting on location without the use of sets. But this was not enough to create a successful picture, the acting was manifestly weak. Khanzhonkov recalled: “The gypsies were terrorized by our camera. As soon as Siversen started turning the handle, the faces of the gypsies “froze" with fear. The beautiful dancer and her partner looked sideways at the device in horror. How could one expect any dances!” (Khanzhonkov A.A. Pervye gody russkoi kinematografii [The first years of Russian cinema]. M., L.: Iskusstvo, 1937. S. 21-22.)
In this program, the film immediately follows the ethnographic newsreels, since the fiction cinema of pre-revolutionary Russia in many respects grew out of newsreels.
The gypsy named Aza has two admirers. She chooses Aleko, a passionate gambler. One day he loses everything, including Aza. For this, the young man was expelled from the camp, but he does not want to leave without the girl and enters the camp at night to take her away. A quarrel breaks out between the young people and Aleko stabs Aza, and throws himself off a cliff.