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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
In his game as white against an unnamed opponent before the final, Luzhin is shown supposedly checkmating with Rd1-d8, which is an illegal move because his rook at d1 is pinned against his king on h1 by black's rook at c1. See more »
Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin:
There's a pattern emerging, a definite pattern. Not Turati. I repeat that game. I've beaten him. And his moves are repeated, repeated, repeated moves. I must keep track... of every second. Every second I must keep track of, every second.
It sounds like such a lonely battle.
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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 »
'The Luzhin Defence' is a good film with fine central performances, but too much of the novel and not enough of the filmmaker's craft shines through. It felt through most of the film that the characters just helped to push the narrative along. Marlene Gorris could perhaps have examined the psyche of Luzhin, rather than depicting him as a tortured innocent victim torn apart by the cruel motives of others.
Adapting literature for the screen is clearly a difficult task, especially a novel written in the early 20th century. This film does not go deeply enough into the relationship between Luzhin and Natalia. Natalia's rift with her mother comes across a churlish disagreement by the mother rather than a dramatic flashpoint in the film. I felt that I was put through Luzhin's torment and eventual tragic end, without being given the pleasure of having his unusual and complex personality unravelled. However, this was a moving and enjoyable film but certainly not a great one.
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