Viatcheslav TOURJANSKI
France, 1933, 86mn 
Black and white, fiction
Volga v ogne
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Волга в огне


 Volga in Flames

 Volga en flammes

Directed by : Vyacheslav TURZHANSKY (Вячеслав ТУРЖАНСКИЙ)
Writing credits : Vyacheslav TURZHANSKY (Вячеслав ТУРЖАНСКИЙ)
Other persons :
writers : Boris de FAST, Jacques NATANSON

Cast : Albert PREJEAN ... Orloff
Valéry INKIJINOFF ... Silatschoff
Raymond ROULEAU ... Schalin
Danielle DARRIEUX ... Macha
Nathalie KOVANKO ... Olga
Henri MARCHAND ... Ivan
Jacques BERLIOZ ... Le colonel
Marcelle WORMS ... His wife
Josef ZEZULKA ... Guardsman

Produced by : Charles PHILIPP
Original Music by : Willy SCHMIDT-GENTNER
Cinematography by : Václav VICH, Fritz ARNO WAGNER
Production Design by : Andrej ANDREJEW, Stepán KOPECKÝ
Sound Department : Gerhard GOLDBAUM
Release Date in Russia : 09/02/1934

Plot synopsis
Lieutenant Orloff, a recently graduated Russian officer, is making his way across the snow-covered steppes to the garrison where he is to be stationed. He comes across a man who has lost his way in the blizzard and takes him to the safety of an inn. Arriving at the garrison, Orloff meets and falls immediately in love with Macha, the daughter of his commander. The town is suddenly attacked by a hoard of bandits led by a Silatschoff, a peasant who claims to be the true Tsar of Russia. In a bloody skirmish, Orloff's batallion is defeated. The young offiicer can only watch as his comrades are taken out to the scaffold to be hung. When his turn comes, he is spared. He realises that Silatschoff is the stranger he saved out on the steppes…

Volga en flames is a fairly respectable adaptation of one of the greatest works in Russian literature, Aleksandr Pushkin’s “The Captain's Daughter”, a poetic novel which recounts Pugachev's Cossack insurrection of 1773/4. The film was directed by Viktor Tourjansky, a Russian cineaste who escaped the Bolshevik Revolution to pursue a very successful filmmaking career in Europe, mainly in France and Germany. Tourjansky’s obvious pride in his country’s culture and history is reflected in many of his films, of which Volga en flames is a prime example.
Whilst the film doesn’t capture the poetry, humanity and twisted humour of Pushkin’s extraordinary novel (it's doubtful whether any film ever could achieve that), it does portray rather well the scale, horror and sheer mindless brutality of a popular uprising (memories of the 1917 revolution were presumably still fresh in Tourjansky’s mind when he made this film). The art design and music are certainly evocative of Imperial Russia, whilst the moody expressionist photography (more typical of German cinema at the time) and ambitious action sequences are suggestive of Eisenstein, conveying the sense of events that are being governed by forces outside the control of mere mortals.
The film's success in France can, at least in part, be attributed to its attractive cast, headed by Albert Préjean, a very popular French actor of the 1930s. Préjean gives a creditable performance as the idealistic Russian officer Orloff, but he is almost eclipsed by his co-star, an alluring young ingénue named Danielle Darrieux, who would go on to enjoy one of the most successful film careers of any French actress.
© James Travers 2007 Source : http://filmsdefrance.com

Selected in the following festivals :
- Festival of Archive Films, Belye Stolby (Russia), 2010