Purportedly adapted from a story by Maxim Gorky, Cain and Artem is a Soviet propaganda piece through and through. Most of the story is told symbolically, as the rotting aristocracy (represented by shots of death and decay) is overthrown by the youthful adherents of communism (all young, smiling, eager). Capitalism and the Church are both given quite a going-over, with most of the film's vitriol reserved for the latter institution. There's also a downtrodden heroine who commits suicide halfway through the picture and a hero who wears a crepe beard, evidently designed to depict him as a Man of the People. The light, carefree tone of the film is established early on with loving close-ups of dead and dying fish being devoured by hungry flies. No studio synopsizer ever bothered to offer any further details of the plotline: apparently it was hoped that technique alone would carry the picture.
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