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A film-in-film story set in a provincial town in Russia. Pasha (Churikova) is an amateur actress who plays a witch at a local club, but her dream is to play Joan of Arc. In a strike of luck she is cast as Joan of Arc in a big screen film. Now she is torn between her luck and her love to Arkadi (Kuravlev) who is a married man. Written by
Perhaps Panfilov's most accessible film, and one of his masterpieces, the others, for me, being his next two films "Proshu Slova" and "Tema", which are in color while this one is in B/W. The story is about a young woman who is a little strange, she's not very confident, and she's not very practiced in the ways of love. She also dreams of being an actress, and she plays Baba Yaga in a local kids theatre play. Two things happen that change her life. First she meets a very nice man who is married with a child but the two are perfect for each other and start going out. The second is she is asked by a director to play Joan of Arc in his film. Panfilov's films are never drivel, the characters are so realistic and well acted in every one of his films. This film is fascinating and unique because it uses the Joan of Arc movie within the film as a device to separate the events of the girl's life. It kind of parallels her life, she must prove herself, she must suffer through something, she must believe in herself, stand her ground. The story is so realistic that a lot of things happen to this young woman, with the man she loves and the film-making. There are troubles in both. I like this film a lot, I'd love to see a good release of it. The script and shooting is absolutely brilliant, so is the editing, and the acting of course by Panfilov's wife is perfect as always, she's funny in this film. The story is genuinely wonderful, realistic, like life, many sad parts, many funny parts. Great all the way through, and I loved the ending, especially the "joke" with the title. A great film about a film being made as well. This is really one of Russia's/USSR's best films, by one of its best directors. Quite a pleasure to watch.
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