Ivan Mosjoukine, one of the greatest actors in silent film, plays Edmund Kean, one of the greatest actors of Regency England. It’s all very stylish and European but perhaps a bit much for first-time silent viewers.
Mosjoukine has fun with his role but the real standouts are Nathalie Lissenko as his True Love and Nicholas Koline as his best friend. It’s quite stylized and one fun detail is to show the White Russians employ rapid cutting a year before Battleship Potemkin. (This isn’t saying they invented it; just it’s interesting that the divided Russias… oh, never mind.)
Do enjoy this characteristically idiotic review from Mordaunt Hall, my arch-nemesis, whose main objections to the film seem to be lack of fireplaces and Mr. Mosjoukine’s height.
Note: There’s some debate as to whether Mosjoukine and Lissenko were married as she is sometimes referred to as his wife. After looking into a bit, I concluded that I did not care. No one disputes that they were an item, the rest is all paperwork.
How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.
It’s no spoiler to say that Kean dies. Mosjoukine relishes the death scene and a good time is had by all. (Keep in mind, the leads are Russian and this is very much in their wheelhouse.)
If it were a dessert it would be: Cake with a Chocolate Collar. Impressive, even if it collapses under its own weight at times.
Availability: Released on DVD by Flicker Alley as part of their Russian Emigres in Paris box set, which you absolutely must get because it is amazing, spectacular, stupendous, magnificent. And it’s good too.
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