B/W, 120 minutes
Director: Kira Muratova
Script: Kira Muratova and Evgenii Golubenko, based on Chekhov's story "Difficult People" and his unfinished play Tat'iana Repina
Cinematography: Valerii Makhnev
Music: Valentin Sil'vestrov
Art Direction: Evgenii Golubenko
With: Filipp Panov, Sergei Popov, Aleksandr Bashirov, Sergei Bekhterev, Nina Ruslanova, Natal'ia Buz'ko, Jean Daniel, Georgii Deliev
Producer Igor' Kalenov
Production: Odessa Film Studio (Ukraine) and Nikola-Film (Russia)
reviewed by José Alaniz©2004
Kira Muratova's Chekhovian Motifs combines the veteran director's fascination with the disjointed, "dark" side of social (especially family) relations with her penchant for formal experimentation, this time involving classic literary/dramatic sources. In this respect, however, the 71-year-old Muratova's master stroke—her avant garde "reappropriation" of Anton Chekhov's short story "Difficult People" (1886) and his unfinished one-act play Tat'ana Repina (1889)—lies as much in her fidelity to the film's original sources as in the ways she subverts them....
Still fearing banality after all these years
Kira Muratova's Chekhovskie motivy (Chekhovian Motifs, 2002)
More than any other national cinema, Russian film is haunted by the presence of literature. Although many films have been straightforward and rather mechanical transfers of literary classics, a good deal have stripped away the plot and rewritten it anew in order to get to the spirit of the written work. Kira Muratova's Chekhovskie motivy (Chekhovian Motifs, 2002) belongs in this second category.
As the title freely admits, the film is primarily based on the themes that Chekhov focussed rather than his works. As it happens, Muratova combines two short stories by the master author and playwright and transposes them to the present day to show that what Chekhov observed is still pertinent today. ...