Motion Pictures (Adaptation)
dir. Grigori Kozintsev, Soviet Union, 1957, 35mm, Russian with English subtitles, 106 min.
This is a most satisfying adaptation of
Spanish novelist Cervantes’ landmark work. It is a successful rendering of the
legendary Don Quixote largely because of the splendid
performance by the great Russian actor, Nikolai Cherkassov, in the title role.
He is the perfect likeness to the old Spaniard, who has read so much literature
on the Age of Chivalry that he dons armor and sets forth with his faithful
squire, Sancho Panza, to fight for the oppressed of the world. Unfortunately,
for all the good he tries to do, the results are usually the reverse of his
intentions. He saves a boy from a whipping, only to have the boy get a worse
beating when Quixote leaves him to move on to other “do good” endeavors.
However, as portrayed with such finesse and dignity by Cherkassov, he makes
Cervantes’s protagonist’s idealism believable and his character lovable.
Quixote rises above the people who make fun of him, particularly the Duke and
Duchess’s cruel scheme to use Quixote as the butt of their jokes, and make them
come off as fools for being so vacuous.