Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Mark Donskoy : Foma Gordeev - Фома Гордеев (1959)

Maria Milkova

Director: Mark Donskoy
Writers: Boris Bailik, Mark Donskoy,
Stars: Sergei Lukyanov, Georgi Yepifantsev,Pavel Tarasov

Foma Gordeev (1959)

Locarno International Film Festival - Best Director

Mark Donskoi may not be as familiar to Western audiences as Eisenstein, Pudovkin, or Dovzhenko; his films are in no way as readily recalled as Battleship Potemkin, Mother , or Earth. Like other Soviet filmmakers, he propagandizes about the glories of the Bolshevik Revolution and highlights the life of Lenin. But Donskoi's great and unique contribution to Russian cinema is his adaption to the screen of Maxim Gorki's autobiographical trilogy: The Childhood of Gorki, My Apprenticeship , and My Universities , all based on the early life of the famed writer and shot during the late 1930s. (Years later, Donskoi adapted two other Gorki works, Mother —the same story filmed by Pudovkin in 1926—and Foma Gordeyev. )

In the trilogy, Donskoi chronicles the life of Gorki from childhood on, focusing on the experiences which alter his view of the world. At their best, these films are original and pleasing: the first presents a comprehensive and richly detailed view of rural life in Russia during the 1870s. While delineating the dreams of nineteenth-century Russian youth, Donskoi lovingly recreates the era. The characters are presented in terms of their conventional ambitions and relationships within the family structure. They are not revolutionaries, but rather farmers and other provincials with plump bodies and commonplace faces. The result is a very special sense of familiarity, of fidelity to a time and place. Of course, villains in Gorki's childhood are not innately evil, but products of a repressive czarist society. They are thus compassionately viewed. Donskoi pictures the Russian countryside with imagination, and sometimes even with grandeur.

Donskoi's later noteworthy works include How the Steel Was Tempered , one of the first Russian films to deal with World War II. While based on a Civil War story, the filmmaker includes only the sequences pertaining to Ukrainian resistance to German invaders in 1918, paralleling that situation to the Nazi invasion. The story also recalls the Gorki trilogy in its presentation of a boy who is changed by his encounter with life's challenges.

Read more: Mark Donskoi - Director - Films as Director:, Other Films:, Publications

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