After years spent reading books of chivalry, a middle-aged Spanish gentleman (Nikolai Cherkassov) is convinced that he is the real-life knight-errant, Don Quixote de la Mancha. To this end, he commissions his battered horse Rocinante to be his steed and appoints fellow Manchegan Sancho Panza (Yuri Tolubeyev) to be his reluctant squire. Both Knight and Squire find themselves living anachronisms in 16th Century Spain, subject to constant humiliation and frequent defeat; safeguarded only by Sancho’s good humour and Quixote’s mad zeal.
Don Quixote, made in 1957, is the first version of the novel in colour and CinemaScope, shot on location in the Crimean region. In adapting Cervantes, Grigori Kozintsev anticipates the style of his renowned Shakespeare adaptations (Hamlet, King Lear); crafting a film of comparable visual richness and poetic wit. The legendary Nikolai Cherkassov (Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible) adds a third to his roster of iconic screen roles with his stirring performance as the Knight of the Rueful Face. —Mr Bongo
Grigori Kozintsev belonged to an astonishing generation of Russian artists. Born in Kiev in 1905, Kozintsev studied at St. Petersberg’s famed Imperial Academy of Art where he began his lifelong engagement with theatre. The Russian Revolution and the avant-garde movements that followed in its wake would bear a great impact on his imagination. To this period belongs the futurist poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksandr Blok, the Formalist criticism of Viktor Shklovsky and Roman Jakobson and the dramaturgical innovations of Vsevolod Meyerhold on the Russian stage.
Along with Leonid Trauberg, Grigori Kozintsev formed the Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS) at St. Petersburg in 1921. FEKS had a pivotal influence on Soviet cinema, especially when Trauberg and Kozintsev put their artistic theories into practice through the films made with the dramaturgical collective. At the age of 19, Kozintsev (co-directing with Trauberg) made his directorial debut with The Adventures of Oktyabrina… read more
Like many Soviet films, gorgeous compositional sense and intelligent camera movement, but lousy colour process. Moskvin and Cherkassov's input reminds me strongly of Eisenstein's "Ivan The Terrible"; Cherkassov (a double for Gunnar Bjornstrand) seems like a gangling, gawky spectator at his own pageant -as if Ivan was freed from his own delirium, cleansed of his evil, again finding nobility in virtuous adventures.