Mark Donskoy

  • Mark Donskoy – Foma Gordeev (1959)

    1951-1960ArthouseDramaMark DonskoyUSSR

    Gordeev Thomas is the son of a wealthy bourgeois tsarist. He enjoys all the privileges of his condition but can not bear the sight of social misery. He falls in love with a married woman, broke with her when he discovers his frivolity and indulges in debauchery. On the death of his father, he became head of a major grain trading. But it does not handle his affairs. He is only interested in human relations. His background, which scorns the Mavericks, rejects. He chose to break with his peers to live with the poor.

    Awards :
    Award for best director at the Locarno Festival, 1960Read More »

  • Mark Donskoy – Dorogoy tsenoy AKA The Horse That Cried (1957)

    1951-1960ArthouseDramaMark DonskoyUSSR

    Also known as At Great Cost, this adaptation of a story by Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky—a Ukrainian writer executed in the Stalinist purges but rehabilitated in 1955—anticipates the wave of Sixties poetic cinema in its focus on star-crossed lovers and its celebration of nature. Set in the 1930s, the film begins as Solomia is forced into an arranged marriage. She escapes with her lover, Ostep, and for a while it looks as if the fugitives will make a clean getaway. Yet eventually they come to the attention of the police, who mistake them for being part of a gang of thieves. One of the major figures of the earlier current of socialist realism, Donskoy, in one of his first post-Stalin era productions, here loosens his style to reveal a delicate romanticism rarely felt in his earlier films.Read More »

  • Mark Donskoy – Serdtse materi AKA A Mother’s Heart (1965)

    1961-1970DramaMark DonskoyUSSR (slightly corrected): The formative years of Bolshevist leader Vladimir Ulyanov (aka Lenin) provides the basis of this Russian biopic that begins the a provincial town of Simbirsk in the late 19th-century (1884-1890) where a widow contends with her six socially-conscious and politically active children. Her husband had also been a staunch supporter of peasant rights. Her eldest daughter and son are studying in the university and trouble ensues when they are arrested for conspiring to murder the czar. Because the son refuses to deny his desire to kill the czar, he is executed. The daughter is then exiled and the widow moves her family to remain close to her. Read More »

  • Mark Donskoy – Raduga AKA The Rainbow (1944)

    1941-1950DramaMark DonskoyUSSRWar

    Mark Donskoy, the Russian filmmaker whose fame rests upon his brilliant “Gorky Trilogy” of the late 1930s, came up with another artistic triumph in 1944’s Rainbow (originally Raduga). With understandable creative rage, Donskoy depicts life in a Nazi-occupied village at the beginning of World War 2. The German conquerors are above nothing, not even the slaughter of small children, to break the spirit of their Soviet captives. Suffering more than most is Olga (Nataliya Uzhviy), a Russian partisan who returns to the village to bear her child, only to endure the cruellest of arbitrary tortures at the hands of the Nazis. Eventually, the villagers rise up against their oppressors-but unexpectedly do not wipe them out, electing instead to force the surviving Nazis to stand trial for their atrocities in a post-war “people’s court.” (It is also implied that those who collaborated with the Germans will be dealt with in the same even-handed fashion). Brilliantly acted by virtually everyone in the cast, Rainbow is a remarkable achievement, one that deserves to be better known outside of Russia.Read More »

  • Mark Donskoy – V lyudyakh AKA My Apprenticeship (1939)

    1931-1940ClassicsDramaMark DonskoyUSSR

    My Apprenticeship (V lyudyakh) was the second entry in Russian director Mark Donskoy’s “Maxim Gorky” trilogy. Picking up where 1938’s My Childhood left off, the story covers the years in Gorky’s life when the future writer (Alexei Lyarsky) was on his own, looking for a purpose and place in life. Before he can make up his own mind, Gorky is trapped into serfdom by a wealthy family. As he grows from his teen years to full manhood, Gorky fights his way towards freedom of thought and body. Based on Gorky’s autobiography, the film was followed in 1940 by My Universities. My Apprenticeship has also been released as On His Own and Among People. ( More »

  • Mark Donskoy – Moi universitety AKA My Universities (1940)

    1931-1940ClassicsDramaMark DonskoyUSSR

    My Universities (Moi universiteti) is the last installment of Russian director Mark Donskoy’s “Maxim Gorky” trilogy. Having endured a painful youth in My Childhood (1938) and a torturous sojourn as a serf in My Apprenticeship (1939), future writer Gorky (Alexei Lyarsky) reaches maturity with an insatiable desire for personal and artistic freedom. The “university” of the title is actual the school of Hard Knocks, as Gorky goes to work in the shipyards and commisserates with the hard-drinking, philosophical dockworkers. Donskoy’s depiction of street life under the Czarist regime of the late 19th century as unrelentingly depressing, filled with disenfranchised derelicts. This, of course, was meant to be a contrast to the “perfection” of the Stalin years. We can forgive this propagandizing in the light of Donskoy’s indisputable cinematic brilliance. In 1941, a considerably edited version of My Universities was released in the US as University of Life. (Hal Erickson, Rovi)Read More »

  • Mark Donskoy – Detstvo Gorkogo AKA Childhood of Maxim Gorky (1938)

    1931-1940DramaMark DonskoyUSSR

    This haunting, unforgettable film, based on Maxim Gorky’s 1913 autobiography, follows a 12-year-old’s journey in life against the tumultuous backdrop of 19th-century Russia. With vivid imagery, it recounts the touching relationships that develop when Gorky goes to live at his grandparents’ home. Most notable are the powerful portraits of lower-class people whose qualities of integrity and dignity shine through their hopeless circumstances. (Rottentomatoes)Read More »

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