Friday, 8 April 2016

Aleksandr Faintsimmer: The Czar Wants to Sleep - Поручик Киже (1934)

Поручик Киже (1934)

Director: Aleksandr Faintsimmer
Writer: Yuri Tynyanov
Cast: Mikhail Yanshin, Boris Gorin-Goryainov, Nina Shaternikova

Михаил Яншин

If the shade of Paul I, Czar of all the Russias, could watch "The Czar Wants to Sleep," the latest Soviet importation at the Cameo Theatre, it certainly would admit that M. Yanshin of the Moscow Art Theatre has treated the half-mad Emperor much more kindly than did Emil Jannings, the German actor, in "Patriots" some years ago.

Нина Шатерникова

This mildly amusing satire on czarism and all its works is based on the traditional incident of a non-existent Lieutenant Kidzhe, blamed by an aide-de-camp (E. Garin) for a sneeze that broke His Majesty's uneasy slumber. The film story goes that Lieutenant Kidzhe first is ordered to receive 100 lashes and be exiled to Siberia, but when the Czar's favorite (M. Shaternikova) explains that he really is a most faithful officer and cried out because pinched by his sweetheart (S. Magaril), Paul decrees that he be brought back and made a colonel. He is rapidly promoted to a major generalship and even married off to his appetizing sweetheart, but unfortunately dies in the hospital just before he is due to present himself before his gracious imperial master. Whereupon the aide-de-camp succeeds to the major generalship and the "widow," and the Czar mourns aloud over the loss of "my best officer," his sadness intensified by the "discovery" that Kidzhe squandered royal funds just before his demise.

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