Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese > 18:15


Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov


Film Notes

1934 saw the publication of Nikolaj Ostrovskij’s (vaguely) autobiographical novel Kak zakaljalas’ stal’ (How the Steel Was Tempered) which was destined to become a canonical classic of Socialist Realist literature, the early Stalinist variety. Its protagonist, Pavel Korčagin, fights for the realization of his communist vision even when handicapped, on the threshold of death, suffering. Aleksej Mares’ev, the real-life war hero of Aleksandr Stolper’s Povest’ o nastojaščem čeloveke (Story of a Real Man, 1948; based on Boris Polevoj’s eponymous novel), takes heart from the book and becomes a WWII fighter-pilot – with two artificial legs. A few years before, Mark Donskoj had already done a first adaptation of Ostrovskij’s novel for cinema (1942), to encourage the Soviet people in their fight against Nazi Germany – resulting in an urgent work more true to the historical moment’s imperatives than the novel’s letters and spirit. The next attempt was destined to become a signature film, for its directorial duo, Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov (students both of Igor Savčenko), as well as for the period: Pavel Korčagin is a big colour production of muted, sombre shades, with a model hero whose self-effacing fanaticism makes him look sometimes pitiful, other times plainly scary – an example of devotion to the cause nobody could possibly live up to, in a mad movie driven by an artistic ambition all sound, all fury. Note the way Alov and Naumov talk about the flesh, the body, how they show its frailty, what ice and cold can do to it – here, being human is an ordeal. Their take on Ostrovskij was obviously deemed so apt that Pavel Korčagin’s screenplay became also the basis for the novel’s third adaptation (1975), this time for TV, directed delicately more than deftly by the great Ukrainian poetic stylist Nikolaj Maščenko.

Olaf Möller

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo Come fu temprato l’acciaio di Nikolaj Ostrovskij. Scen.: Konstantin Isaev. F.: Il’ja Min’koveckij, Suren Šachbazjan. Scgf.: Vul’f Agranov. Mus.: Jurij Ščurovskij. Int.: Vasilij Lanovoj (Pavel Korčagin), El’za Leždej (Rita Ustinovič), Tamara Stradina (Tonja Tumanova), Vladimir Marenkov (Ivan Žarkij), Pavel Usovničenko (Žuchraj), Dmitrij Miljutenko (Tokarev), Aleksandr Lebedev (Nikolaj Okunev), Lev Perfilov (Franz Klaviček), Viktor Stepanov (ragazzino arruffato), Lidija Piktorskaja (madre di Korčagin). Prod.: Kiev film studio. 35mm. D.: 100’. Col.