Fragment of an Empire
About the Film
Fragment of an Empire, Ermler’s last silent feature, which Denise J. Youngblood considers “the most important film in Soviet silent cinema” is little known and woefully underappreciated today. That paragon of Soviet film scholarship Jay Leyda called it “a model of realism, presented without any sophistication, almost as if Ermler were telling a parable, though its technique recalls both Eisenstein and Dovzhenko.”
The story concerns a young man, Filimonov, drafted into the tsar’s army during World War I, who becomes a total amnesiac due to shell shock. He begins to regain his memory a few years later and is at pains to understand what happened as his country has been thoroughly transformed by the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917.
About the Restoration
Based primarily on a 35mm print held at EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, this restoration of Fragment of an Empire is supplemented with a 35mm nitrate print from the Swiss Cinémathèque, which provided the original Russian intertitles for Acts 2–6 as well as a small number of shots missing from the primary source. Titles absent from the Swiss print have been reproduced based on Russian censor records and are identified with the notation “2018” in the lower right corner. A partnership between EYE Filmmuseum, Gosfilmofond of Russia, and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the restoration also received funding from Rick Andersen and John and Susan Sinnott. It would not have been possible without the perseverance and meticulous scholarship of archivist Peter Bagrov.
EYE Filmmuseum, Gosfilmofond