The film is based on the biography of the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. She became an internationally regarded ballerina after her performances in 1909 with the Dyaghilev's ...
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The film is based on the biography of the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. She became an internationally regarded ballerina after her performances in 1909 with the Dyaghilev's Ballet in Paris and in London. Anna Pavlova eventually formed her own troupe. She made a successful world tour together with Viktor d'Andre, who was her husband and manager.Written by
Originally to be directed by legendary filmmaker Michael Powell, the movie was taken from him by the Russian Ministry of Cinema, and directed by Russian filmmaker Emil Loteanu as a matter of national prestige. See more »
Bland Co-Production which will offend nobody but will not really satisfy anybody either.
Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931) was probably the most famous female ballet dancer of the early 20th century. She was born into poverty to an unmarried working-class mother in St Petersburg, was a sickly child, and was initially regarded as too tall and thin to become a ballerina. Despite these disadvantages, however, she rose to become a prima ballerina with the Imperial Russian Ballet and Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. She later formed her own dance company with which she toured the world.
This filmed biography of Pavlova is a rare example of an Anglo-Soviet co-production. It was rather surprisingly made during the Cold War period of early eighties, a rather frosty period in relations between the Soviet Union and the West. The famous British director Michael Powell acted as producer; Powell had a great interest in ballet and had earlier made, with his collaborator Emeric Pressburger, "The Red Shoes", one of the greatest ballet films of all time. Another Westerner involved with the project was Martin Scorsese, who tried to cast two major Hollywood stars, Robert De Niro as an American impresario and Jack Nicholson as Pavlova's husband and manager, Victor D'André. The Soviet authorities, however, objected to both men, De Niro because he had appeared in "The Deer Hunter", often seen as anti-communist, and Nicholson because of some disobliging comments he had made about the Soviet system. The role of D'André eventually went to James Fox, about the only face any Westerner might recognise.
Pavlova was perhaps not the most obvious person for the Soviets to want to make a film about. She was a Russian artist of impeccable proletarian background, but one who preferred to make her home in capitalist, imperialist Britain rather than in the workers' fatherland. Between 1912 and her death in 1931, a few days short of her fiftieth birthday, she lived in Golders Green, North London, and never returned to her native land. Perhaps this is why the script places such stress upon her supposed wish to dance at the Mariinsky Theatre for one last time; if this really was her wish it was never fulfilled.
The film is a visually attractive recreation of the world of the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, with some elegant recreations of Pavlova's dances. It is, however, slow-moving and at times dull, with little underneath its surface beauty. The events of its heroine's life are not always easy to follow; it is, for example, a long time before we realise that Victor actually is Anna's husband as well as her business manager. Anna never becomes much more than a beautiful mask; we learn what sort of dancer she was, but not what sort of woman she was. Perhaps the film illustrates the drawbacks of multi-national co-productions, particularly when made by two nations with very different political and social systems. When one is trying to satisfy the demands of two very different markets, it is all too easy to fall back on something bland which will offend nobody but on the other hand will not really satisfy anybody either. 4/10
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