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DON QUIXOTE

USSR, 1957 (MIFF 1958, Programme 3)

Director: G. Kozintev

One tine summer morning, a tall, thin man. wearing the armour of a knight and mounted on a scraggy steed, rides forth from a small Spanish village. Following him on a little donkey is a good-natured pot &ndash: bellied peasant. This is the valiant Don Quixote setting out, with his faithful squire Sancho Panza, to perform deeds of valour in the name of his lady &ndash: love, Dulcinea. The days of chivalry and knights &ndash: errant, of tournament and battles for honour, are long past; but the romantic hidalgo has been affected by books of chivalry and now imagines himself a champion of the oppressed. He has resolved to dedicate himself to defending the oppressed and righting wrongs. With impassioned speeches he persuades Sancho Panza, a peasant neighbour, to leave hearth and home and join him in a life of uncertainty and danger.

Many are the adventures the brave knight and his squire encounter. Don Quixote is coninced that evil magicians, afraid to meet him in open battle, have disguised themselves as various objects &ndash: as winebags, a carriage, wind But he devines the enemy's treachery and valiantly into battle each time. In vain doe sensible Sancho Panza try to restrain his zealous master and friend.

Don Quixote, the hero of Cervantes' novel, is played in this adaptation by Nicolai Cherkasov who is well known for his portrayals in Alexandei Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible. Sancho is, as it were, another side of the romantic Don Quixote &ndash: reality observing tire eccentric gentleman with a friendly but sober eye &ndash: shrewd, witty. earthy, cautious, even a bit cowardly at times, but always sensible and kind.

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