With an international chess tournament in progress, a young man becomes completely obsessed with the game. His fiancée has no interest in it, and becomes frustrated and depressed by his ... See full summary »
José Raúl Capablanca,
Garry Kasparov is arguably the greatest chess player who has ever lived. In 1997 he played a chess match against IBM's computer Deep Blue. Kasparov lost the match. This film shows the match... See full summary »
A chess grandmaster is in a big tournament, and when his lover is found painted up and the blood drained out of her body he becomes a chief suspect. After he gets a call from the killer ... See full summary »
During Stalin's reign of terror, Evgenia Ginzburg, a literature professor, was sent to 10 years hard labor in a gulag in Siberia. Having lost everything, and no longer wishing to live, she meets the camp doctor and begins to come back to life.
Middle-aged chambermaid Hélène's newfound obsession with the game of chess leads her to seek the tutelage of a reclusive American expat, transforming both of their ho-hum lives in the ... See full summary »
Germany in the early 1930s. Against the backdrop of the Nazis' rise, Hermann Hermann, a Russian émigré and chocolate magnate, goes slowly mad. It begins with his seating himself in a chair ... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
In Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy, actor John Turturro (Barton Fink, Do the Right Thing) takes audiences on a haunting, intimate journey to his maternal homeland of Sicily. There, while ... See full summary »
'Bobby Fischer Against the World' is a documentary feature exploring the tragic and bizarre life of the late chess master Bobby Fischer. The drama of Bobby Fischer's career was undeniable, ... See full summary »
Set in the late 1920s, The Luzhin Defence tells the story of a shambling, unworldly chess Grand Master who arrives in the Italian Lakes to play the match of his life and unexpectedly finds the love of his life. Discovering his prodigious talent in boyhood overshadowed by his parents' failing marriage, Luzhin's lyrical passion for chess has become his refuge and rendered the real world a phantom. Already matched up by her family to the very suitable Comte de Stassard, when Natalia meets Luzhin, she is drawn to the erratic genius and offers him a glimpse outside of his chess obsession. But it is a world he is not equipped to deal with and his two worlds collide to tragic effect. Written by
from "Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2"
Composed by Dmitri Shostakovich (as Dimitri Shostakovich)
Performed by Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra)
Conducted by Riccardo Chailly
By permission of Boosey & Hawkes Licensing
Courtesy of Decca Record Label Ltd.
Under license from Universal Special Markets
(p) 1992 Decca Records See more »
A movie of outstanding brilliance and a poignant and unusual love story, the Luzhin Defence charts the intense attraction between an eccentric genius and a woman of beauty, depth and character.
It gives John Turturro what is probably his finest role to date (thank goodness they didn't give it to Ralph Fiennes, who would have murdered it.) Similarly, Emily Watson shows the wealth of her experience (from her outstanding background on the stage). To reach the tortured chess master (Turturro) her character has to display intelligence as well as a woman's love. Watson does not portray beauty-pageant sexuality, but she brings to her parts a self-awareness that is alluring.
In a chance meeting between Natalia (Watson) and Luzhin, she casually stops him from losing a chess piece that has fallen through a hole in his clothing
a specially crafted piece that, we realize later in the film, has come to
symbolize his hopes and aspirations. Later, as their love affair develops, she subtly likens dancing to chess (Luzhin has learnt to dance but never with a partner); she encourages him to lead her with "bold, brilliant moves" and in doing so enables him to relax sufficiently to later play at his best (and also realize himself as her lover).
This is a story of a woman who inspires a man to his greatest achievement and, in so doing finds her own deepest fulfillment, emotionally and intellectually (Or so we are led to believe - certainly, within the time frame, Natalia is something of a liberated woman rather than someone who grooms herself to be a stereotypical wife and mother).
The Italian sets are stunning. The complexity of the characters and the skill with which the dialogue unfolds them is a delight to the intelligent movie-goer, yet the film is accessible enough to make it a popular mainstream hit, and most deservedly so. Chess is merely the photogenic backdrop for developing an emotional and emotive movie, although the game is treated with enough respect to almost convince a chess-player that the characters existed. Although a tragedy of remarkable heights by a classic author, the final denouement is nevertheless surprisingly uplifting.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?