Don Diego and Pelageya
(Don Diego i Pelageya)
Peter Bagrov is a curator of the moving image department at the George Eastman Museum and an expert on Russian and Soviet film history.
Mariya Blyumental-Tamarina, Anatoliy Bykov, Vladimir Mikhaylov, Vladimir Popov,
“Protazanov was a master of stylization, adapting new forms and techniques with the flexibility of a chameleon. Examining his films one can easily trace the influence of Bauer, Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Lubitsch, Griffith, the French ‘avant-garde,’ and so forth. Perhaps Don Diego and Pelageya, too, offers a stylization of sorts—but a cleverly concealed one. A comedy of the 1920s is easily recognizable, in its acting and its rhythm; even its camerawork and set design are highly conventional. But this film breaks the mold. Many scenes in Don Diego have a documentary air. . . . Nobody expected Protazanov to use this approach while making a comedy at Mezhrabpom-Rus film company.”
Yakov Protazanov, USSR, 1927
The protagonist of The Forty-First is a young woman sharpshooter, Mariutka, fighting with the Reds in Turkestan. Having shot forty White Army officers, she falls in love with the forty-first. Ada Voitsik’s restrained and tragic acting and Pyotr Yermolov’s sublime cinematography make this one of the most bitter love stories in the history of Soviet cinema. Alas, extant copies of the film are substandard, but we hope Protazanov’s importance as a director and a chance to understand more about him make up for the deficiencies of this 35mm print.