After the death of his beloved mother, Andrei Bagrov (Vitold Polondky) spends a secluded life as a student under his doting Aunt Kapitolina’s (Olga Rakhmanova) roof. He is basically a nerd and inept in social situations. One day his friend Tsenin (Georg Asagaroff) persuades him to go out to a party and meet some of his friends and acquaintances. One of the people he meets is an actor named Zoia Kadmina (Vera Karalli). The exchange is brief, but Zoia makes a deep impression on Andrei and he on her.
Tsenin then persuades him to go to a soiree where Zoia is putting on a performance. After Zoia does her dramatic reading, Andrei quickly leaves. Zoia is attracted to Andrei and sends him a note to meet her in a local park. Andrei is attracted to Zoia but is not well versed in the art of courting, so the meeting doesn’t go very well.
Three months later Andrei reads in the paper that Zoia has committed suicide by poisoning herself. It is speculated that she died due to unrequited love. This knowledge affects Andrei deeply. He becomes melancholy and begins having dreams about Zoia. It isn’t long before Andrei becomes obsessed with her. He visits her sister (Tamara Gedevanova) and mother (Mariya Khalatove) and admits his love for Zoia. He is given her diary and picture. Andrei’s obsession for the dead actor deepens.
“After Death” AKA “Posle smerti” was released in 1915 and was directed by and the screenplay written by Yevgeni Bauer. It is a 46-minute Russian silent horror drama with fantasy elements. The movie was based on an 1883 novella by Ivan Turgenev called “Klara Milich”.
It is a rather melodramatic tale of love lost, 1915 style. Silent film is perfect for this type of story. It is a haunting and slightly surreal film. Much of the fascination of it is due to director Bauer.
Yevgeni Franzevich Bauer was a Russian silent film director and screenwriter. He was influential and highly regarded in the realm of Russian filmmaking. Silent film buffs will find a lot to like about Bauer’s techniques in this film. Most notable are his dollying back and forth across the screen as Andrei meets the other guests at the party and the use of black and white during the dream and hallucination sequences instead of color tinting.
Vera Karalli, who plays Zoia, was a ballet dancer and actress. She was the mistress of the Russian Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and was, reportedly, a co-conspirator in the 1916 murder of Grigori Rasputin, the “Mad Monk”.
The new music score composed for the film was done by Edward Boensnes.