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A Nest of Gentry
(Dvoryanskoe gnezdo)

Screening on Film
Directed by Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky.
With Irina Kupchenko, Leonid Kulagin, Beata Tyszkiewicz.
USSR, 1969, 35mm, color, 111 min.
Russian with English subtitles.

Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky's impressionistic adaptation of the novel by Ivan Turgenev teems with life onscreen and in its soundtrack. Alternately playful and brooding, it concerns a Russian aristocrat (Kulagin) who has left his adulterous wife (Tyszkiewicz) in Paris and returned to his childhood home, where he subsequently falls in love with a young woman (Kupchenko). Ovchinnikov's sumptuous Romantic orchestral score intertwines with a variety of folk and liturgical songs, classical pieces for piano and harpsichord, and sounds of nature. Especially notable is the comic horse-buying episode featuring young actors Nikolai Gubenko and Nikita Mikhalkov (and attendant Gypsy musicians), and a recurring balalaika tune which culminates in a poignant vocal duet between the nobleman's two loves. (This theme makes an appearance in the composer's later score for They Fought for Their Motherland.) Ovchinnikov has described A Nest of Gentry as "one breath in, one breath out."

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