A Nest of Gentlefolk

In Wheeler Auditorium

Admission: $2.50

Featured at the 1969 San Francisco Film Festival, Konchalovsky's adaptation of Turgenev's story has been unseen in this country ever since. We are fortunate to have discovered a print in England for this showing, taking place almost exactly ten years after its only previous American screening. At the 1969 Festival, Albert Johnson noted:

“This is one of the most beautiful adaptations of Turgenev ever brought to the screen, and a confirmation of the promise of genius in the young Soviet director, Konchalovsky. Through a leisurely, romantic look at a group of frustrated aristrocrats in the late nineteenth century, we are shown the reactions of Fyodor, a nobleman who returns to his country estate in Russia, after an eleven-year absence. Immediately, we experience a clash of memories with him as the musty rooms of the house are opened again, and he remembers his beautiful wife, Varvara, whom he has left in Paris. She had been unfaithful to him, and Fyodor hopes to lose his melancholia in the beautiful surroundings of his youth. The introductory scenes in A Nest of Gentlefolk are splendid - Konchalovsky's use of light surpasses the best of Von Sternberg, and he uses color like a great painter. The entire sense of the times is perfectly placed, in the manner of speech and the way characters move. Throughout the film, until its conclusion, one has the awareness of watching a masterpiece. The crisis of the narrative occurs when Fyodor visits some neighbors and falls in love with a beautiful young girl who is betrothed to a Frenchman she does not love. He hears that Varvara has died, and thinks his dilemma is solved, but the news proves to be false when his wife shows up again. It is unnecessary to reveal more, but to those accustomed to the types described in this film, through the works of Chekhov and Turgenev, it is obvious that tragedy is inevitable. There is no sentimentality in Konchalovsky's treatment of these aristrocrats - he understands the ambivalence in Fyodor's love for the outside world and his boyhood way of life, and he makes us care about these fading symbols of a milieu that had to pass away.”

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