Grigori Kozintsev

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Michael Kerpan
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#26 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:27 pm

Ruscico's subbed version of Kozintsev's "Don Quixote" is finally out -- with subtitles, proper Sovscope format and faded Soviet color (some restoration -- but probably not much can be done). Sound quality is variable. Not perfect -- but I doubt a better version is likely.

Probably the best adaptation ever of Cervantes' classic tale. Nikolai Cherkasov and Yuri Tolubeyev are visually perfect for their roles as the Knight of the Rueful Countenance and Conqueror or Lions and his trusty companion Sancho Panza. Not quite the equal of his last two films, "Hamlet" and "King Lear", but still very fine.

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#27 Post by kekid » Tue May 01, 2007 4:42 pm

Based on past postings on this forum, I inquired about a PAL Ruscico version of Don Quixote, and was told it is out in NTSC format only. Do the comments from Michael Kerpan apply to the NTSC version? Is a PAL version expected?

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#28 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue May 01, 2007 4:44 pm

kekid wrote:Based on past postings on this forum, I inquired about a PAL Ruscico version of Don Quixote, and was told it is out in NTSC format only. Do the comments from Michael Kerpan apply to the NTSC version? Is a PAL version expected?
These screenshots are from the recent NTSC release.

No mention yet of an upcoming PAL version on Ruscico's site.

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#29 Post by tryavna » Tue May 01, 2007 7:53 pm

Ruscico has released a couple of titles NTSC-only. The Forty First is the only one I can think of right off the bat, but I think there have beena couple of others.

I have no idea why, though.

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#30 Post by che-etienne » Wed May 02, 2007 10:11 am

I believe this DVD will have the score on it, though it is only a limited edition, and doesn't seem to have been released yet. I was lucky enough to see the film with live accompaniment at the University of Chicago. It's quite an intense film.

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#31 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed May 02, 2007 10:16 am

A great film -- but don't bother with either the Facets video or the current Russian DVD. Both of these leave out Shostakovich's absolutely essential score -- and the Facets video looks like cr@p.

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#32 Post by Kinsayder » Wed May 16, 2007 8:31 am

The Maxim trilogy (with Shostakovich scores) is available in France from Bach Films: here, here, and here.

Optional French subs only. Fairly poor, unrestored image quality:

Image Image

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#33 Post by meanwhile » Fri May 18, 2007 12:09 pm

Tartan are due to release Kozintsev's Hamlet and King Lear in a 2 disc 'Soviet Shakespeare' set on 27th August.

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#34 Post by Murasaki53 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 1:55 pm

Anyone know anything about this DVD version of Kozintsev's Don Quixote?

http://www.amazon.com/Don-Quixote-Nikol ... 000VWCUIM/

The Ruscico is a bit difficult to track down and it's more expensive.

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#35 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 25, 2007 2:34 pm

The Corinth video was pan and scan -- and I'll bet so is the video (I even seem to recall that the old Corinth print that circulated was not wide-screen). The color is still degraded on the Ruscico DVD (semi-) restoration, but is a whole lot better than it was in that old Corinth video.

Have you checked russiandvd.com? That's where I got my copy of the Ruscico.

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#36 Post by Murasaki53 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:01 pm

There's actually a Ruscico for sale on the Amazon US site. But I'm in the UK so the postage makes it a bit pricey.

Also, much as I'm an admirer of Kozintsev's Shakespearean adaptations, I'm a bit wary of Don Quixote as it seems to have had mixed reviews, not just on this thread but over at places like the imdb website.

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#37 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:16 pm

Murasaki53 wrote:There's actually a Ruscico for sale on the Amazon US site. But I'm in the UK so the postage makes it a bit pricey.

Also, much as I'm an admirer of Kozintsev's Shakespearean adaptations, I'm a bit wary of Don Quixote as it seems to have had mixed reviews, not just on this thread but over at places like the imdb website.
Can't you buy direct from Ruscico?

The film isn't as perfect as Hamlet and Lear, but it is very worth seeing -- but not so much so in butchered form -- as in the Corinth video.

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#38 Post by Tommaso » Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:20 am

Has anyone got any news about the "Soviet Shakespeare" set? Release date has passed three months ago, and nothing's to be seen anywhere. Amazon.uk lists it as 'currently unavailable'.

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#39 Post by Subbuteo » Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:02 pm

I was wondering also; will email Tartan.

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#40 Post by Subbuteo » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:02 am

Update: no response from Tartan (3 weeks now); customer services mirrors their website - crap!

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#41 Post by ando » Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:37 pm

I'm anxious to see his Lear though I can't get up enough steam to write a long delayed extended review of his Hamlet. If only he had never seen Olivier's version! I appreciate the directorial nod but so much of Olivier's lugubrious Oedipal version is aped that what little originality there is stands out very much; particularly, the inclusion of the court members in the "domestic" or dramatic household scenes. It's a decidely "Soviet" turn to have the community involved - or should I say, uninvolved - yet silently watching (in some instances, Hamlet nearly runs over some of the more curious nobles) the goings-on among the royal Danes, yet this theme isn't necessarily one Shakespeare had in mind, so naturally, the community's involvement or uninvolvement is a matter not really developed, despite the visual motif.

I will say however, that Kozintsev's ghost is impressive - much more so than any other cinematic representation I've seem. I concur with old Orson Welles about the importance of a particularly memorable or dynamic ghost of Hamlet's father. Since he is the primary catalyst for much of the action in the story his presence is crucial (Shakespeare was said to have played the role opposite Burbage's Hamlet). The manner in which the ghost is shot is probably more impressive than the figure itself, but memorable, nonetheless.

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#42 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:43 pm

comments and screen shots from Kozintsev's and Trauberg's New Babylon and Alone:

http://rozmon.blogspot.com/2008/03/two- ... uberg.html

Oh -- and I disagree with Ando's characterization of Kozintsev's Hamlet. Kozintsev expressly rejected the Freudian interpretation followed by Olivier in his version of Hamlet (though he admired that version overall).

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#43 Post by Revelator » Fri May 23, 2014 6:38 pm

I recently watched the Facets DVD of King Lear. The picture quality is decent, but the DVD isn't anamorphic. This might have put a damper on the entire experience, and I regret not purchasing the Rusico version. Facets uses Shakespeare's text for the subtitles, which are badly timed and often cued to the wrong characters (creating the sneaking suspicion that some presumably cut lines might actually have been dropped by the subtitlers).

Even with a botched presentation, Kozintsev's Lear is one the most impressive Shakespeare films. The settings have a genuinely epic look--sheer cliffs and castles strewn with soldiers, lines of beggars snaking across wastelands of jagged boulders, raging fires juxtaposed with furtive glimpses of the sea. The storm scene begins with swirling winds over a vast, dried-out riverbed (or what looks like one), with Lear in high angle, inviting the rain. The compositions are the work of a master--I will never forget the last glimpse of Cordelia, seen through an arch. There are bravura tracking shots of the characters wandering through battles, with soldiers tussling throughout the background.The duel between Edgar and an increasingly desperate Edmund starts as staccato spectacle and ends in hysteria--Edmund comes through very strongly in Kozintsev's version, along with the Fool, envisioned as a sort of wide-eyed village idiot/holy fool.

The other performers are less memorable--and I must admit that while I admired this film, it left me slightly cold. Casting Yuri Jarvet as Lear was gutsy, but I couldn't take this impish, sweet little man seriously as a king (when Kent says Lear projects authority, it sounds like a joke). Lear's daughters fail to come alive--Gonreil and Regan are fairy tale hags and Cordelia is blandly sweet.
Orson Welles demonstrated that massive cutting and rearranging can benefit a film version of Shakespeare, but some of Kozintsev's cuts and edits made little sense to me. Several of Lear's most dramatic and confrontational lines are turned into soliloquys, including the curse on Goneril and "Reason not the need"--thus weakening the conflict between father and daughter(s). Gloucester's attempted suicide is eliminated and replaced by a fumbling reconciliation. The reconciliation of Lear and Cordelia, seemed to rush by, though there was a surfeit of shots of trundling carts and animals (the latter approximate the play's animal imagery, but dogs and hawks can't stand in for "monsters of the deep"). Kozintsev's interpretation is both Christan (the repeated presence of crosses works against the pagan ethos of "as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods") and Marxist--the perpetual presence of faceless crowds of paupers and beggars remphasize a point that was obvious the first time around. Making the Lear's hovel already full of "poor, naked wretches" takes away from the impact of meeting Poor Tom and literalizes the brainwave of Lear's prayer for the poor.

Lastly, at the risk of sounding like a barbarian, I believe the film would have worked entirely without non-diegetic music. Great as Shostakovich is eslewhere, his score felt as shrill and intrusive as something from a 40s Hollywood film. Perhaps the DVDs sound levels, or those of my TV, encouraged such an impression, but for me the images were strong enough to not require an orchestra.

In any case, I have no dispute with those who rank this among the greatest of Shakespeare films, though I personally prefer Peter Brook's film. I now look forward to seeing Kozintsev's Hamlet--I suspect I might enjoy it more, since I'm less personally attached to the play and also enjoyed Olivier's adaptation.

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#44 Post by bottled spider » Fri May 23, 2014 6:57 pm

A word of warning: the subtitles on the Facets Hamlet DVD are absolutely appalling. Out of sync or often just missing, and full of typos.

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#45 Post by Revelator » Fri May 23, 2014 7:05 pm

bottled spider wrote:A word of warning: the subtitles on the Facets Hamlet DVD are absolutely appalling. Out of sync or often just missing, and full of typos.
Thanks for the warning! Since neither that DVD nor the Mr. Bongo release are anamorphic, I'll go with Rusico. (I should have known better than to buy from Facets in the first place.)

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#46 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 23, 2014 8:06 pm

Unfortunately, so far as I know, all existing subbed versions of Kozintsev's Shakespeare films use Shakespeare snippets rather than actually translating Pasternak's texts. I personally can't conceive of either Kozintsev's Hamlet or Lear without Shostakovich's music (and neither could Kozintsev -- who sometimes re-cut stuff to better fit Shostakovich's musical vision).

I quit buying from Facets long ago, after I bought an absolutely disgustingly atrocious VHS tape of Lear (part of it wasn't de-anamorpicized). The Ruscico release isn't perfect, but I'm sure it's significantly better in every respect. (I believe there are also unsubbed domestic releases of the two Kozintsev films that are even better than the Ruscico versions).

I love Shakespeare's Lear even more than Hamlet -- and the same applies to Kozintsev's adaptations of these. But I consider them all great. I also recommend checking your local library for the translated versions of Kozintsev's two Shakespeare related books.

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#47 Post by bottled spider » Fri May 23, 2014 8:28 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:-- who sometimes re-cut stuff to better fit Shostakovich's musical vision
Ah! I wondered about that. One of the things I found so exhilarating about Lear was the synchrony of sound and image -- like the way the musical tempo would match the speed of a tracking shot. I wondered if it was Shostakovich tailoring his music precisely to the film. After all, in his younger days he earned a living playing the piano live for silent films, improvising to match the action on screen. Interesting that a director would edit to fit the music!

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#48 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat May 24, 2014 12:53 am

In some cases, Shostakovitch wrote the music based on timing information and Kozintsev's description of what was going on.

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#49 Post by jsteffe » Sat May 24, 2014 1:02 am

The Ruscico edition of Hamlet looks OK, but their King Lear is one of their weaker transfers overall. If I recall correctly, the Facets DVD actually looked better, even thought it was non-anamorphic. Probably the Mr. Bongo editions will look better too, but in any case I recommend investigating carefully.

UPDATE: there is a big difference between the PAL and NTSC versions from Ruscico. Somehow I wound up with the much inferior NTSC version.
Last edited by jsteffe on Sat May 24, 2014 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Grigori Kozintsev

#50 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat May 24, 2014 1:07 am

My recollection is that the PAL version of Ruscico's Lear was reputed to look better than its NTSC one.

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