A young officer in the army of Empress Catherine of Russia is on his way to his new duty station at a remote outpost. During a blinding snowstorm he comes upon a stranger who was caught in ...
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In Naples, a voice from the skies announces one morning that the final judgment will be at 6 p.m. on that day. What follows is a series of vignettes depicting various people's reactions (or lack there of) to the announcement.
A young officer in the army of Empress Catherine of Russia is on his way to his new duty station at a remote outpost. During a blinding snowstorm he comes upon a stranger who was caught in the storm and is near death from freezing. He rescues the man and eventually brings him back to health. When the man is well enough to travel, the two part company and the man vows to repay the officer for saving his life. Soon after he arrives at his new post, a revolt by the local Cossacks breaks out and the fort is besieged by the rebels. The young officer is astonished to find out that the leader of the rebellious Cossacks is none other than the stranger whose life he had saved during the storm. Written by
Dino DeLaurentis produced this fine film, Tempest, of Alexander Pushkin's novel set during the reign of Catherine the Great starring Van Heflin as the rebel pretender Pugachev who said he was really Czar Peter III who was Catherine's husband and whom she overthrew several years earlier. Viveca Lindfors plays a cool and calculating Empress Catherine.
But the thing to remember is that this is not a work of history. Pushkin did write history as well, but this film is not history as such. It is based on Pushkin's novel The Captain's Daughter and the protagonists are Geoffrey Horne and Silvana Mangano. It is through their eyes that we see both their love and the background that led to this attempted revolution against Catherine.
Young Horne for an indiscretion is sent in exile from Catherine's court to a frontier outpost commanded by Captain Robert Keith. With a little matchmaking help from her mother Agnes Moorehead the two are fated to be mated, eventually.
But in the meantime the revolt of Pugachev is growing. As it turns out Horne and his servant Oscar Homolka saved the life of a frozen peasant on the way to the outpost. When Pugachev overruns their outpost, Horne's life is saved by the fact it's none other than Van Heflin now styling himself as Czar Peter.
Heflin who was a consummate actor playing all kinds of everyman roles as an American transfers well as a Russian peasant. A whole lot better than Henry Fonda did as a Russian in War And Peace.
But that's not the end for Horne. For his warnings about the growing discontent of the peasantry and Heflin's popularity with them, he gets himself into a nice little jackpot. Aided and abetted by the dying words of Helmut Dantine, another officer who actually did turn traitor to Catherine. Dantine also had eyes for Mangano.
Pushkin was a romantic writer and Tempest first and foremost a love story just like Gone With The Wind against the epic background of a great war. As far as the novel goes, Tempest sticks fairly close to the plot of The Captain's Daughter. And the spirit of those times of Catherine the Great are captured in the novel and in this film.
Tempest is a good historical epic which is sadly neglected today. I'm sure the Russians have adapted this same story, maybe better. But this is a fine version as is for the English speaking world.
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