I always regarded this opus as a rare piece of trash. There is close to nothing from real Tchaikovsky in this movie, just a glossed Stalinist version of the composer, the kind they indoctrinated in every music classroom to every youngster - that he was a progressive genius whose works fit socialist realism and Lenin's ideas about socialist culture very well. By the way, a vast majority of ignorant Russians are still offended by the notion of him being a homosexual. The composer's letters and reputable biographies are published in minuscule circulation, this film is seen by millions. Here's the power of indoctrination even in post-communist era. On top of that, the society is generally extremely homophobic. They used to send people to prison for homosexuality up to 1994, and every year there is a discussion in their parliament on resurrecting this law as part of criminal code. So here is your cultural backdrop...
Now, the movie has its own little merits, but the underlying total lie and poor director's thinking and probably general grasp of the subject make the better parts totally worthless.
Soviet cinema had its glorious moments, especially in the great escape of great patriotic war movies, where things were black and white, at least where the real evil was. The biographies - there were few interesting ones (Tsiolkovsky's, Pavlov come to mind), but always castrated by the intricacies of either Stalinist or post-Stalinist era.
I'd love to ramble on, but I think I got the main message clear - the film is a great lie, and on film merits alone is not a good work either. So to those first few folks who put there rave 10 star reviews
what planet are you from? Start from reading books, including
composer's own letters. Then compare what you learned with what you see. Otherwise, Lenin still wins his micro battle in your consciousness, and the bastard doesn't deserve this, and you neither.
It would be great to make a true biographical movie or better yet mini-series about composer's life. His life was full of tremendous drama, add real music scores that make sense - and it could be something worth watching. Hollywood can't do it, its mostly prostituting pure trash, the French or Germans might. Russians could have, when the country and its cinematography was free for a fairly brief time, not these days of self-censorship, return of government control and new rules. And to say the composer was gay is a faux pas. How would one film a biography without this basic fact.
PS Regarding subtitles - never expect a decent work from Russian video publishers, it's in best case scenario a sloppy translation (heck, the translation of Tarkovsky's Andrey Rublev is simply horrible at times, and that's criterion edition). Few exceptions are fairy tales.
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