Vladimir Petrov

Sog.: da romanzo omonimo di Aleksandr Kuprin. Scen.: Vladimir Petrov. F.: Arkadij Kol’catyj. Scgf.: Abram Frejdin. Mus.: Aram Chačaturjan. Int.: Nikolaj Komissarov (colonnello Šulgovič), Andrei Popov (tenente Nazanskij), Jurij Puzyrëv (sottotenente Romašov), Michail Nazvanov (tenente Nikolaev), Irina Skobceva (Aleksandra Petrovna, ‘Šuročka’, sua moglie), Lidija Sucharevskaja (Raisa Peterson), Sergej Blinnikov (Lech), Nikolaj Bogoljubov (Osadčij), Vladimir Belokurov (Dic), Evgenij Evstigneev (Peterson). Prod.: Mosfilm. 35mm. D.: 102’. 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

Poedinok is a fine example of Soviet cinéma de qualité. As are most of the adaptions of classical literature. Leading actors of the stage are supporting a young star of the screen (in this case Irina Skobceva who has just gained fame as Desdemona opposite her future husband Sergej Bondarčuk-Othello in the first Soviet adaptation of Shakespeare). Vladimir Petrov (1896-1966) could be considered the godfather of such films. One of the few Soviet directors influenced rather by the First World War than by the Revolution, he had chosen ‘the humiliated and insulted’ for his main topic. Petrov managed to smuggle a Dostoyevskian world of dark passions and complexes not only in the story of Peter the Great in his 1937-39 biopic but even into ‘children’s films’ about the way the Party was taking care of orphans. He gained international success with Groza (Thunderstorm, 1933), an adaptation of Aleksandr Ostrovskij’s classic play, poetical and naturalistic at the same time.
Petrov had a taste for picking classics on issues of the day: Ostrovskij’s Bez viny vinovatye (Guilty Without Guilt) became a number one box-office hit in 1945. Poedinok was his last success. Aleksandr Kuprin’s novel written at the turn of the century was a cold-eyed story of dull garrison life. Petrov’s adaptation was a romantic melodrama – a genre the Russians were lacking for several decades. Kuprin’s pathos was in his contempt for the Russian military system; the actors in Petrov’s film sparkled in pre-revolutionary uniforms, relishing mazurkas and waltzes (no wonder, since the music was composed by Aram Chačaturjan). And of course there was love – not just a triangle but a multifigured composition with a femme fatale at the centre, something one could never see in a modern story. Restrained acting, typical for ‘the Russian school’, gave way to over-the-top melodrama. Which was done deliberately and consistently – to the great satisfaction of the audience (not counting the critics).

Peter Bagrov

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