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Yugoslavia, 1962 (MIFF 1964)

Director: Andrzej Wajda

Andrzej Wajda, famed Polish director of the trilogy, A Generation, Kanal and Ashes and Diamonds, was engaged by Avala Films of Belgrade to adapt for the screen the story "Lady Macbeth of Mtensk" by the Russian nineteenth-century writer, Leskov. Wajda tells, with great simplicity and considerable power, of a Lady Macbeth who kills not for ambition but for love. Married to a merchant much older than herself, bored with life in a primitive provincial town, Lady Macbeth of Mtensk proves an easy match for an ambitious young clerk. Exalted by her love, she sweeps away all ob­stacles — her husband, her father-in-law, even a child. Wajda succeeds in establishing both a sense of period and place. The wide screen is filled with magnificently composed pictures; massive timbered rooms, florid ex­teriors, icons, samovars — these, and the raging dust of the steppes, provide the setting in which the heroine ranges, consumed by boredom and frustration. As the story proceeds, Wajda sustains the imagery, climaxing in the splendid extravagant scene in which the damned pair go for a hysterical hay-ride through the fields. The whole concept is of a film produced in the grand Slav, almost operatic, manner and quite unlike anything we have seen from this director before.

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