"S.V.D." (1927)

also known as "Soyuz Velikogo Dela"

also known as "The Club of the Bid Deed"

"S.V.D" was released in Moscow on August 23, 1927 Produced by Sovkino (Leningrad)
Directed by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, Writing credits - Yulian Oksman and Yuri Tynyanov.

Cast: Pyotr Sobolevsky, Sergei Gerasimov, Sophie Magarill, and Andrei Kostrichkin.

The Story

The story is a romantic historical drama set in a St. Petersburg garrison in 1825. A " Decembrist " officer in love with a countess involves his fellow officers in a revolt against Tsar Nicholas I in December, 1825, but the revolution fails because of a traitor. This romantic story was produced by the FEKS (Factory of Eccentric Actors) and has striking sets and memorable photography. The film at times resembles a Mack Sennett comedy. Pistols are fired by people hiding in barrels, an underground escape route terminates in the altar of a church, and a circus is interrupted by the arrival of police.

1927 was the tenth anniversary of the October revolution, and all the Soviet studios were grinding out film after film to commemorate the big event. "The End Of St. Petersburg," "Potemkin," "The Girl With The Hat Box," "Fall Of The Romanov Dynasty," and numerous other films commemorating the Soviet takeover were being prepared for the big event. Another event in Russian history that received almost as much attention as the October revolution was the Decembrist revolt of 1825 in St. Petersburg.

One of the large-scale films to commemorate the Decembrists was "S.V.D." ("The Club of the Big Deed"). "The Club of the Big Deed" commemorated an actual event that had taken place about a hundred years before. In the early morning of July 14th, 1826, near the Peter-and-Paul
Fortress in St. Petersburg, arrangements were being made for executions. The prisoners had been brought out of the dungeons well in advance of the executions and they had drawn straws to decide who would be led to the gallows first. With bound hands and feet with chains, they watched nonchalantly as the gallows were being built. They were the five ringleaders of the so-called Decembrist revolt of seven months previous, an abortive uprising by liberal army officers who had been influenced by the modern ideas that swept through Europe during Napoleon's era.

To the sound of a military march and a drum roll the prisoners marched to the gallows dressed in long linen shrouds that covered their heads and took their places at the trap doors. As the drums rolled, the trap doors sprung open, and then three of the cords snapped, and three prisoners fell into the pit below the gallows.

There was an ancient Russian belief that if a hanging is unsuccessful, it must be God's will, and the convict is immediately pardoned by the Czar. On this day the Czar had deliberately left for his summer palace, and preparations were made to hang them again since the Czar wasn't available to pardon them. It was very early in the morning, and since most of the shops were closed, the band continued playing marches as the prisoners awaited the return of the executioners who were seeking additional rope. Shortly afterwards the deed was done.


The director of the film was the brilliant Grogori Mikhailovich Kozintsev who at the age of fourteen during the Russian Civil war began decorating propaganda trains, directing propaganda plays, acting and directing films. Kozintsev was a teenager when he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Petrograd. With Leonard Trauberg, a young dramatist friend, they and other young artists in 1922 organized the FEKS, "Factory Of The Eccentric Actor" studio. This theater company had as its aim the search for new forms of theatrical expression to overthrow the old traditional ways represented by the Moscow Art Theater. They produced numerous films in which they disregarded the conventional methods. Not until they produced "S.V.D." were Kozintsev and Traberg's reputations established.

In their first talking film, "Alone" (1931), they made a break with the eccentric " FEKS" methods, and the music for their film was set by Shostakovich.

German titles with synchronized sound effects
Approximately 85 minutes.

copyright 2001 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

Return to "Rare and Obscure Films" page