Mark Donskoj, Vladimir Legošin

[La canzone della felicità] Scen.: Georgij Cholmskij con modifiche di Michail Blejman. F.: Nikolaj Ušakov. Scgf.: Semën Mejnkin. Mus.: Grigorij Lobačëv. Supervisione artistica: Sergej Jutkevič. Int.: Vladimir Gardin (il professore di musica), Janina Žejmo (Anuk), Michail Viktorov (Kavyrlja), Boris Tenin (Goroch), Boris Čirkov (capo del reparto disciplinare del carcere), Fëdor Nikitin (l’insegnante di musica), Ignatij Moskvin (il taglialegna di Lebedev), Leonid Kmit (Grjaznov), Nikolaj Mičurin (Lebedev/nonna di Anuk). Prod.: Vostokfilm. 35mm. D.: 85’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Mark Donskoj, an enfant terrible, a madman (or an actor – there still isn’t a consensus here), was rarely taken seriously by his Soviet colleagues. It was the adoring interest of the Italian neo-realists and later the critics of “Cahiers du cinéma” in his masterpieces The Gor’kij Trilogy (1937-39), Raduga (Rainbow, 1943) and Dorogoj cenoj (The Horse That Cried, 1958) that finally made Donskoj’s compatriots recognize his significance. Pesn’ o sčast’e is Mark Donskoj’s first sound film, and the first one where his aesthetics and philosophy are clearly visible.
It was intended to be a film of little importance. As were all the pictures produced by Vostokfilm, a nomad film company cruising around the eastern part of the Soviet Union to portray the lives of the locals. Donskoj and his co-director Vladimir Legošin (three years later he directed one of the best Soviet films for children, Beleet parus odinokij / Lone White Sail) were to make a film about Maris, a Finno-Ugric people who lived in Russia along the Volga river.
Neither Donskoj nor Legošin were interested in ethnography. But both were 165 happy to choose ‘a man of nature’ as their protagonist. His activities were minimized, and the actor Michail Viktorov’s duty was to tactfully blend into trees and waters (Nikolaj Ušakov’s poetic photography was a vitally significant component here). Or into music – little relies on human speech, but a flute is almost a full-fledged character, and some of the most emotionally rich ‘dialogue’ and‘monologue’ belongs to it.
What was supposed to become yet another ‘optimistic drama’ (the beloved genre of the Soviets) about the formation of a class-conscious character turned into something between a fairy tale, a miracle- play and an eccentric comedy. Upon its release, Pesn’ o sčast’e was received gleefully. It was hard to tell what the film was about, but one thing was clear: Donskoj had an ability to turn whatever he touched into cinema.

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