Barnet, Boris (1902–1965) By Adriaensens, Vito
Boris Barnet (b. June 18, 1902, Moscow, Russia; d. January 8, 1965, Riga, Latvia) was a Russian actor, director, and professional boxer. He made his debut as an actor in Lev Kuleshov’s comedy Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov (The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr West in the Land of the Bolsheviks) (1924) along with Vsevolod Pudovkin, after they both famously attended Kuleshov’s three-year workshop on film principles that spawned the film. Barnet inherited Kuleshov’s montage principles, consisting of the combination of American-style fast cutting, combined with avant-garde techniques from French Impressionism and German Expressionism, thus setting it apart from its “dull” predecessors. For Kuleshov, the film came together in the editing room, where he insisted on the importance of the relationship between shots and scenes. Barnet debuted with the contemporary spy serial Miss Mend (1926), and became well known for his swiftly paced comedies; he was therefore somewhat of an anomaly in the propaganda-driven Soviet montage cinema. In his two most celebrated comedies, Devushka s korobkoi (The Girl with the Hatbox) (1927) and Dom na Trubnoi (The House on Trubnaya Square) (1928), Barnet took on the speed of modern city life and translated it into an elating style by combining the visual characteristics of Dziga Vertov with the rhythm and acting of someone like Buster Keaton. In the sound era, Barnet continued to impress internationally with lyrical masterpieces such as the understated Great War ensemble piece Okraina (Outskirts) (1933) and the impressionistic fisherman’s drama U samogo sinego morya (By the Bluest of Seas) (1936).