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There's so much in the Pushkin tale that doesn't make it into the movie, but what does get in is glorious. The young hero's soul is in his face, and the figure of Pugachev is magnificent. There are gaps in the storytelling, but the visual imagery flows through: the rebellion, when it comes, seems as natural as the unlocking of the seasons. And when the following winter ends in defeat, there's tragic weight to the breaking ice and the muddy roads. (A historical reflection: the film assiduously portrays the nobility and beauty in the different nationalities, all those who were to become members of "soviet republics".) For all the real heroism, there's a tinge of Shandy Hall about the army residence - Pushkin knew of Sterne's novel, though I've never heard that it was an influence; but the association is surprisingly apt for this adaptation.
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