Thursday, May 20, 2010

We happy idlers

Last month I linked to Pushkin's Scene from Faust translated by Alan Shaw. He was kind enough to send me a link to his YouTube page that has
From the 1979 TV film, Malenkie tragedii (Little Tragedies--Mozart and Salieri).
dir. Mikhail Shveitser.
Salieri: Innokenty Smoktunovsky.
Mozart: Valery Zolotukhin.
Subtitles adapted from A. Shaw's translation of Pushkin text.

I highly recommend this adaptation of Mozart and Salieri, not because it ia completely faithful to Pushkin (it's not) but because it's true enough as well as adding some nice touches. I've made no bones about accepting changes made in film adaptations as long as they are faithful to the source text in tone and texture (especially adapting for a different medium). This adaptation does a pretty good job. Ater watching all five parts, seek out Pushkin's story--you will not be disappointed.

I wish I could have posted on this sooner--many thanks to Mr. Shaw for passing on this link and uploading these videos!


Alan Shaw said...


I'm glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for posting it. The more I watch this sequence the more I admire it. Shveitser, who died in 2000, was known for his film adaptations of Russian literary classics. Here he uses maybe 80% of Pushkin's text verbatim, and the changes he makes are always defensible and sometimes brilliant, such as moving the first part of Salieri's second monologue to give a voiceover of his thoughts while Mozart plays him his new piece. The play, compressed as it is, really gains from a bit of cinematic expansion, I think.

And Smoktunovsky was a marvelous actor. His film Hamlet (Kozintsev, 1964) was the best ever, in my opinion.


Dwight said...

I'm amazed how much was straight from Pushkin's text--I should have stressed that. As you say, Pushkin is so econmical that, while it reads well, a direct live adaptation would feel stilted.

I loved the extra touches...Salieri repeatedly leaving the beads, for example. And the changes worked extremely well. I look forward to watching this again as well as searching out more that Smoktunovsky is in.

Thanks again Alan...greatly appreciated.