Arsenal (1929 film)

Arsenal (Ukrainian: Арсенал, also alternative title January Uprising in Kiev in 1918[1]) is a Soviet war film by Ukrainian director Alexander Dovzhenko. The film was shot at Odessa Film Factory of VUFKU with the camera of legendary cameraman Danyl Demutskyi and using the original sets made by Volodymyr Muller. The expressionist imagery, perfect camera work and original drama took the film far beyond the usual propaganda and made it one of the most important pieces of Ukrainian avant-garde cinema.[2][3] The film was made in 1928 and released early in 1929.[1][4] It is the second film in his "Ukraine Trilogy", the first being Zvenigora (1928) and the third being Earth (1930).

Stenberg brothers' film poster
Directed byAlexander Dovzhenko
Produced byAlexander Dovzhenko
Written byAlexander Dovzhenko
StarringSemyon Svashenko
Nikolai Nademsky
Amvrosy Buchma
Les Podorozhnij
Music byIgor Belza
CinematographyDanylo Demutsky
Distributed byOdessa Film Factory of VUFKU
Release date
  • February 25, 1929 (February 25, 1929)
Running time
92 min.
CountrySoviet Union
LanguageSilent film
Russian intertitles

The film concerns an episode in the Russian Civil War in 1918 in which the Kiev Arsenal January Uprising of workers aided the besieging Bolshevik army against the Ukrainian national Parliament Central Rada who held legal power in Ukraine at the time. Regarded by film scholar Vance Kepley, Jr. as "one of the few Soviet political films which seems even to cast doubt on the morality of violent retribution", Dovzhenko's eye for wartime absurdities (for example, an attack on an empty trench) anticipates later pacifist sentiments in films by Jean Renoir and Stanley Kubrick.


  • Semyon Svashenko - Timosha
  • Georgiy Kharkiv - Red Army
  • Amvrosy Buchma - German soldier in glasses
  • Dmitri Erdman - a German officer
  • Sergey Petrov - a German soldier
  • K. Mikhailovsky - nationalist
  • Alexander Evdakov - Nicholas II
  • Andrei Mikhailovsky - nationalist


  1. Арсенал - информация о фильме (in Russian). Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  2. Jay Leyda (1960). Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film. George Allen & Unwin. pp. 252–255.
  3. Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre
  4. Magill's Survey of Silent Films, Vol.1 A-FLA p.152 edited by Frank N. Magill c.1982 ISBN 0-89356-240-8 (3 book set ISBN 0-89356-239-4)

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