- Run Time: 1 hours, 22 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
- Released: March 17, 2020
- Originally Released: 1939
- Label: Alpha Video
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Description by OLDIES.com:
The setting is the Ukraine in 1775. The Zaporogian Cossacks are regarded as mighty warriors, to the extent that the Imperial government in Moscow fears their power. Rumors of a raid on their village spread like wildfire. The cossacks appeal to Czarina Catherine for mercy, but she insists they join the Russian army or die. Rather than see their women and children be slaughtered, they burn down their village and flee on the Danube, finally settling in Turkey. There, they are treated with suspicion by the Turks, but a friendship between one of the Cossacks and the Sultan of Turkey may lead to a bright new future for these misplaced warriors and their families...
Cossacks in Exile might be the most obscure entry in the filmography of B-movie auteur Edgar G. Ulmer, but it may also be his overlooked masterpiece. After angering Carl Laemmle at Universal (who had produced The Black Cat (1934), considered by many to be the director's best) Ulmer was forced into working on "ethnic films" made outside Hollywood. One of them was an adaptation of the famous 1863 Ukranian operetta Cossacks in Exile by Semen Hulak-Artemowsky. Perhaps moved by the similarity of the Cossacks' situation to his own, Ulmer filled the film with unique, personal touches. These include a ghostly narrator, fast-cutting montages, and an abundant use of silhouettes and shadows. Perhaps most surprising is when the black and white film bursts into full blazing color during the sequence in which the Cossacks burn down their village. Despite its seeming verisimilitude, Cossacks in Exile was filmed far from the Ukraine or Turkey. It was shot in Newton, New Jersey, at the same time that Ulmer was making the Yiddish-language picture The Singing Blacksmith (1938) with Moishe Oysher. The director would soon make his return to Hollywood, making interesting low-budget pictures for PRC and United Artists like Detour (1945), The Strange Woman (1946), and The Man from Planet X (1951). Cossacks in Exile remains unique among his films, and is worthy of closer examination by film scholars and students. It is presented in Ukranian with English subtitles, just as it was at its New York premiere in late January 1939.