A permanent feature of the French cinema of the thirties (particularly the first half) is a Russian story.Most of the time,it was a chocolate box country :we knew it was Russia cause they paid in roubles.
Victor Tourjansky was himself a Russian director.The Revolution drove him away from his land and he used to work in France in the thirties."Volga en Flammes" was the first of three "Russian" movies which build some kind of trilogy;for the record,the others are "Les Yeux Noirs" and "Le Mensonge de Nina Petrowna " .
Unlike his French colleagues (Lherbier:"La TRagédie Impériale" ;Dréville:"les Nuits Blanches de Saint-Petersburg" ) the director knows ,and for a good reason,how to recreate a Russian atmosphere ,with the songs,the settings and the impressive scene where the characters are lost in the snow.
But it's difficult to believe Albert Préjean(!!) and Danielle Darrieux are Slavs!Raymond Rouleau was even less lucky:to portray the villain,he was made up as a "cosack" .Only Valery Inkijinoff is convincing (and again for a good reason) but his character (a man who wants to overthrow the czar )is cardboard.Although short,the movie is labored ,and the musical sequences,although fine,are mostly filler.
We feel a certain nostalgia for czarism.
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