The Island of the Dead is a film about the demise of the Russian Epocha Modern. The symbol of this culture was the legendary Russian film star Vera Kholodnaya, who evoked a poetic image of the young urban woman on the silver screen. Her death in 1919, shrouded in tragedy and mystery, put a symbolic end to the pre-Revolutionary period. The Island of the Dead is composed of fragments from numerous films from this period, juxtaposed with other contemporary artistic expressions such as music and painting. Kovalov shows convincingly how the fragile beauty of the Russian Epocha Modern had to make way for the pressure of Futurism, Constructivism and other 'progressive trends', and how these '-isms' were then also relegated to the melting pot to be remoulded by totalitarian norms.