Alphaville Videoteca

Early Russian Cinema, Vol. 5: Petr Chardynin & Pushkin (1910-1913)

Rusia. Drama. 45 minutos
Título Original: Early Russian Cinema, Vol. 5: Petr Chardynin & Pushkin
Director: Petr Chardynin
Formato: DVD  Calidad: DVD
Idioma: Silente   Subtítulos: Inglés

THE QUEEN OF SPADES (Pikovaia dama). Director/Screenplay: Petr Chardynin. From the opera by Tchaikovsky, based on Pushkin’s story. Photography: Louis Forestier. Art Director: V. Fester. Production Company: Khanzhonkov. Released November 30, 1910. Cast: Petr Biriukov (German). Aleksandra
Goncharova (Liza). A. Pozharskaia (Countess). Andrei Gromov (Eletskii).

THE HOUSE IN KOLOMNA (Domik v Kolomne). Based on the verse story by Pushkin. Director/Screenplay: Petr Chardynin. Photography: Ladislaw Starewicz. Art Director: Starewicz(?) & Boris Mikhin. Production Company: Khanzhonkov. Released October 19, 1913. Cast: Praskov’ia Maksimova (A widow). Sof’ia Goslavskaia (Her daughter Parasha). Ivan Mozzhukhin (Guards officer and Mavrusha).

The modern cult of Pushkin as the idealized “greatest Russian author” was gaining momentum during the period that Russian cinema flowered, which may help to explain why so many Pushkin adaptations appeared among its early output. Indeed, these adaptations may even have helped popularize Pushkin while they contributed to
Russian cinema’s distinctive cultural ambition — as Russian film expert Yuri Tsivian has put it — “inconstructing the edifice of their own cinema, the Russians, as usual, had begun with the roof.”

Chardynin’s experience as a touring actor-manager doubtless colored his approach to these adaptations, encouraging a robust and practical approach uninhibited by excessive reverence. The producer Khanzhonkov remembered how The Queen of Spades was shot on a specially-built set at Krylatskoe, which proved too small to
accommodate Lisa’s suicide by drowning. “The height of the stage prevented the poor girl from concealing herself ‘underwater,’ so a pit had to be dug urgently and the scene was shot again. That was quite an event in itself in those days.”

Another recollection sheds light on the context of The House in Kolomna. Sof’ia Goslavskaia recalled how much Mozzhukhin revelled in his “female” role as the cook: “When we had finished the studio scenes, Chardynin took us to Zhitanaia Street and Kaluzhskaia Square to film the episode in which the three of us — Mavrusha the cook, the old woman and Parasha — go to the bath house... Astonished passers-by gathered round to watch the ‘cook’ walk behind us in a sweeping ceremonial gait carrying a huge bath-house broom.” Chardynin was worried that Mozzhukhin’s
enthusiastic espousal of his female role would lead to accusations of bad taste, especially in the scene where the cook helps put Parasha to bed. Together they worked to find a way of avoiding scandal while retaining “the mischievous content of Pushkin’s work.”

The result is a unique demonstration of Mozzhukhin’s range before stardom trapped him in the steely, demonic roles for which he is now best remembered. And of course Chardynin’s robust Queen of Spades makes a fascinating comparison with the more sophisticated version in which Mozzhukhin was to star six years later.

PETR CHARDYNIN (1873?-1934) Little is known of Petr Ivanavich Chardynin’s origins (or even his exact birth date) until he enrolled at the Moscow Philharmonic Society’s College of Music and Drama in 1891. There he studied acting under Nemirovich-Danchenko, of the Moscow Art Theatre, in the same class as Ivan Moskvin. Subsequently he toured with provincial companies before a meeting with the producer Khanzhonkov in 1908 started him acting in, and soon directing, the latter’s films. During the next ten years of commercial production, Yuri Tsivian estimates he
made about 200 films, of which 34 have been preserved.

Slow to adopt cinematic devices, Chardynin was a leading exponent of the “cine-recitation” form, a combination of live actors’ speech and filmed images which was peculiar to early Russian cinema. As an experienced actor, he encouraged the development of Russian screen acting, and had the distinction of introducing Ivan Mozzhukhin to screen acting.

Yuri Tsivian has identified a characteristic use of deep diagonal space in Chardynin’s films from 1910, but his reluctance to use reverse shots made his work look old-fashioned alongside that of Evgeni Bauer by 1914. He felt that he had lost position with Khanzhonkov and in 1916 moved to Kharitonov’s company. Many of the leading
actors followed him and his films of 1917-18 were highly successful. After the death of Kholodnaia, he attempted to make “revolutionary” subjects, including an Andreev adaptation. In 1920, he moved to Latvia, then to the Ukraine in 1923, where he finished his active career in 1930.

Titles translated by Julian Graffy. Original music by Neil Brand. Produced by Erich Sargeant. Selection and notes by Ian Christie.
Total Running Time: 45 minutes. Program: © 1992 British Film Institute. Film Copyright: Gosfilmofond, Moscow.