Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naïve about British people and ...
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Ivan Kouznetsoff, a Russian engineer, recounts during World War II his stay in England prior to the war working on a new propeller for ice-breaking ships. Naïve about British people and convinced by hearsay that they are shallow and hypocritical, Ivan is both bemused and amused by them. He is blunt in his opinions about Britons and at first this puts off his hosts, including the lovely Ann Tisdall, whose grandfather runs the shipbuilding firm that will make use of Ivan's propeller. The longer Ivan stays, however, the more he comes to understand the humor, warmth, strength, and conviction of the British people, and the more they come to see him as a friend rather than merely a suspicious Russian. As a romantic bond grows between Ivan and Ann, a cultural bond begins to grow as well, particularly as the war begins and Russia is attacked by Germany. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Young Russian inventor seeks buyer of his invention in affluent pre-war England.
Young Russian inventor Ivan Kouznetsoff (Sir Lawrence Olivier) brings his new design and prototype for an underwater ice-breaker propeller to pre-war England (1938-39) in hopes of presenting it to world famous engineer and shipbuilder, Mr. Runalow (Felix Aylmer), hopefully for production. He coincidentally meets Mr. Runalow's granddaughter, Ann (Penelope Dudley-Ward), who takes him under her wing and home to the family. Culture shock (in both directions) permeates his every experience and interaction. The development of mutual understanding is the sub-plot, hastened by Hitler's invasion of Russia during Kouznetsoff's second trip to England and its subsequent synergy of combined effort to assist Russia and to complete the ship with the cutting edge propeller.
Having worked for 2+ years with émigrés from Russia who lived through WWII and were contemporaries with this film, Olivier's interpretation of Russian sensibility was of great interest to me and he did a very fine job. One of Olivier's best performances, in this writer's opinion. Well written script and dialog. Performances of Felix Aylmer and Penelope Dudley-Ward were quite enjoyable. Felix Aylmer as a wise genius in this film bears notice in contrast to his role as Polonius in Olivier's Hamlet. The film held my undivided attention the entire two hours.
Highly recommended for anyone with high interest in inter-cultural relations. Given human nature's propensity for alienating others who display any differences, the making of this film was a stroke of genius. Hopefully it was widely viewed at that time (1943) and provoked reflection. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a moving picture is worth 1000 pictures. Kouznetsoff's speech at the ship's christening and launch is priceless - remarkably apt and inspiring.
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