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As in the previous installments (The Childhood of Maxim Gorky and My Apprenticeship), the conclusion of The Maxim Gorky trilogy boasts great cinematography, visual poetry and rich characterisations, but unfortunately, where there had been precious little political propaganda before, this final movie is now full of it.
Peshkov is in his late teens and, too poor to fulfill his dream of enrolling in university, he gets a job as a baker, working for the vicious upstart Semyonov. Because Peshkov/Gorky is now old enough to be politically aware, he can be used as a mouthpiece for Stalinist thought, most notably in the scene where he says man should love his fellow man, but not exploiters like Semyonov. There's a road from that line straight to the gulags of Siberia.
And yet there's more Gorky than Stalin in the characterisation of Semyonov, who's also the movie's most fully realized individual, often more pathetic than villaineous.
Like Satyajit Ray's Apu's Trilogy, it ends with its main character finding some sort of spiritual completion, but here it's done so heavy handed, so laden with obvious symbolism, it becomes almost laughable. Sad that such a great trilogy must end on a false note.
**1/2 (out of 4)
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