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.
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 »
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,
Three women, all strangers to each other, meet in a dress boutique. One of the three is approached by the male proprietor as she is shoplifting a garment. When he approaches her the other ... 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 »
Possibly, the most romantic and allegoric poem-as-movie I have ever seen
Emily Watson's Natalia is absolutely the most loving and romantic lead character I have ever seen on a screen. She is the queen of this film beyond all doubt. Or, is she transmuted to the king? The internecine weaving of the chess games and the families' struggles for control, power, and victory is stunning. Just as the chess masters in the film do, the director is playing many simultaneous games with our mind at once, but all weave into either major or minor patterns. The period, the costumes, and imagery of early 20th century Italy's lake district is captured magnificently. Not a single square of space is wasted.
So many brilliant scenes abound, I cannot recount them all. I recommend budgeting enough time to watch this movie twice, possibly a week apart, because you can't possibly capture all the poetry within a 64-square yet multi-dimensional framework in one setting.
I did not read Nabakov's book, but to try an analogy of my own, what I am reading reminds of me of another romantically triumphant poetry-as-game movie, Barry Levinson's The Natural. It totally jettisoned the downbeat ending of Bernard Malamud's fatalistic book in favor of a romantic impressionism that was uniquely American. Well, the director did that one better by seamlessly meshing Russian and Italian morals and mores as a backdrop to enlightenment. The true story here is that games are zero-sum; there is a winner and a loser, unless both contestants draw. But, in life, and especially in the context of our immortal souls, we are only limited by those constraints and life's conventions to the extent we let others break our spirit.
Pure love, as personified by Emily Watson's Natalia, can transcend and allow all of us to be enhanced by its gifts simultaneously. Only the barriers erected by our fears can cut us off from it.
This is a magnificent movie (10/10).
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