T. alt.: Doktor Toporkov. Sog.: dal racconto Fiori tardivi di Anton Čechov. F.: Aleksandr Stanke. Scgf.: Sergej Kozlovskij. Int.: Ol’ga Baklanova (Marusja), Aleksej Bondyrev (il servo), Lidija Dejkun (madre di Marusja), Aleksandr Gejrot (Egoruška), Marija Uspenskaja (sensale di matrimoni), Boris Suškevič (dott. Toporkov). Prod.: Vladimir Vengerov e Vladimir Gardin. DCP. Tinted.
Cvety zapozdalye, based on a short story by Čechov, is an illustration of primal conflicts. Marusja Priklonskaja, a young woman from an aristocratic family resigned to her fate, honors her mother, tolerates the weaknesses of her unruly brother Egoruška, and secretly loves Dr. Toporkov, a former serf. The death of her mother, her sorrow for the behavior of her brother and his mistress, poverty and emotional pain (Toporkov marries the daughter of a wealthy merchant) all lead to a fatal illness. The film has only partially survived: only the second half remains, depicting Marusja’s illness and hard life.
According to its contemporaries, the dramatic construction of the film was not entirely successful, but “despite some slow scenes in the first two parts of the screenplay and some very hurried scenes in the final two parts” Cvety zapozdalye was practically the only cinematographic adaptation able to convey Čechov’s mood. This was in large part thanks to the actors of the Moscow Art Theatre: Ol’ga Baklanova, Lidija Dejkun, Aleksandr Gejrot, Marija Uspenskaja. The scenes with Geirot in the role of Yegorushka were filmed in a naturalistic way, and Baclanova’s performance (the actress later emigrated and performed in Tod Browning’s Freaks and Joseph von Sternberg’s The Docks of New York) is full of nuance and detail: her reactions are influenced by the psychology of the protagonist and cannot be reduced to a single feeling, gesture or look. Long walks, the waiting and general slowness of the action serve to convey the pressure of the environment and everyday life in which the protagonist lives.
Boris Suškevič – director and actor at the Moscow Art Theatre – distanced himself from theatrical techniques more than many filmmakers, almost giving up on the pursuit of an effect, both in acting and filming: there is a notable absence of “looking in the camera, diaphragms, backlighting and beautiful tinting”. For the most part it is often impossible to judge the tinting of pre-revolutionary films, simply because the tinted copies have not survived; Cvety zapodalye, however, is a rare exception. In the Gosfilmofond archives there are two positive prints of the film with different tinting, sometimes radically different. It should be noted though that the best scene in the film, where Marusya walks the streets in the dark, remains in black and white.