The Queen of Spades (1960)

aka Pikovaya dama
Article 2503 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-10-2008
Posting Date: 6-19-2008
Directed by Roman Tikhomirov
Featuring Oleg Strizhenov, Zurab Andjaparidze, Laris Avdeyeva
Country: Soviet Union

An officer wishes to run off with the woman he loves, but in order to do that, he needs money. He hears that the elderly countess who takes care of his love knows the secret of three cards that will guarantee a win at gambling. He decides to force the secret out of her.

This isn’t a direct adaptation of the Pushkin short story, but rather an adaptation of the Tchaikovsky opera based on the story. So once again this non-opera-fan finds himself watching an opera for this series. You know, there are times here where I get a sense of the power of opera; hearing these singers belt out their music can be somewhat stirring. However, these are only momentary feelings, and pretty soon I find myself wishing they’d hurry the plot on a little instead of stretching everything out for the sake of the music, and I don’t really feel I have a legitimate complaint about it because it is, after all, an opera, and what did I expect? It all comes down to this; when I want to see this story, I’ll always opt for the 1949 non-opera cinematic version of the story, a fine movie in its own right. Still, I like the way this adaptation doesn’t feel stagebound, and I find it interesting that each character is played by two people – one whose physical presence appears in the movie, while another does the singing. The story itself is also quite good, but I knew that from the other version I saw. Certain eerie happenings give the movie some horror touches.



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