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The Luzhin Defence (2000)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 8 September 2000 (UK)
2:13 | Trailer

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Two worlds collide when an eccentric genius falls in love with a strong-willed society beauty.



(novel), (screenplay)
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Luzhin
... Natalia
... Vera
... Valentinov
Christopher Thompson ... Stassard
... Turati
... Ilya
... Anna
... Luzhin's Father
... Luzhin's Mother
Alexander Hunting ... Young Luzhin
Alfredo Pea ... 1st Official
Fabio Pasquini ... 2nd Official
Luigi Petrucci ... Santucci
Carlo Greco ... Hotel Manager


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His love dictates every move.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and thematic elements | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 September 2000 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Luzhin Defense  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$63,203, 22 April 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,051,811, 26 August 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


A camera operator's reflection is in the window just after Luzhin walks past a piano (about 30 minutes in). See more »


Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin: As Pushkin's doomed duelist said, "Let's start if you're willing."
See more »


Waltz 2
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 »

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User Reviews

Defenseless you will be to the charms of this film, all romance lovers out there!
31 July 2008 | by See all my reviews

Alexandr "Sascha" Luzhin (John Turturro) is a former leading chess player attempting a comeback at an Italy-hosted tournament. His brilliance is unquestioned but his obsession with chess has stunted his growth in all other aspects of his life. Natalia (Emily Watson) is a beautiful heiress who has come to the same resort with her mother, Vera (Geraldine James) to scope out possible marriage partners. Vera leans toward a handsome count but, astonishingly, Natalia is more fascinated by Sascha, whom she met on a walk. Sascha, too, is taken with Natalia and proposes marriage at their second meeting. But, with the concentration that Sascha must give to the chess matches and, with other happenings in his past still causing problems, will he win the heart of Natalia? Oh, and can he become the chess champion, also? This is a lovely film, based on a novel by Nabokov. The acting is amazing, with Watson very fine as the beautiful little rich girl and Turturro utter perfection as the shy, awkward chess enthusiast. James gives quite a nice turn as the overbearing mother and the other cast members are wonderful as well. As for the look of the film, it could not be better. The scenery is of the put-your-eye-out variety, the vintage costumes are gorgeous and the cinematography is deserving of much applause. Yes, the story is unusual and told with the use of flashbacks, at times, making it a film not everyone will appreciate. Then, too, the ending is bittersweet. However, if you love romance, period pieces, great acting, knockout scenery, or the fine art of motion picture creation, don't miss this one. You will be defenseless in resisting its multitude of charms.

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