For those interested in how Stalin stifled Russian cinema.
Belinsky, directed by Grigory Kozintsev by now split with long-term collaborator Leonid Trauberg, was made in 1950 but not released until 1953 following the reshooting of various scenes as demanded by Stalin. Ostensibly a biopic of the nineteenth century literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, in fact we learn little of this gentleman's life. In a particularly verbose production the character of Belinsky is used as a means of bringing together various literary figures of the time, Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev and so on, presumably to lend authenticity to proceedings. The moral of the film, that when in doubt, let the people be your guide is hammered home with subtlety of a sledge-hammer.
The music by Dmitri Shostakovich, which will probably be the draw for most people these days is used only sparingly throughout the film, generally as accompaniment to the comparatively few outdoor scenes, where the very Russian main Overture theme is perhaps overused. There is little or no Shostakovich music contained within the film, which will be new to those familiar with the suite (Citadel CTD 88135 Belarus RTV Symphony Orchestra, Walter Mnatsakanov 1999).
For a more detailed discussion on this and other films with music by Shostakovich see Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film, written by John Riley and published by I. B. Tauris, London and New York in the series Kinofiles Film Companion, 2004.
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