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THE OVERCOAT

USSR, 1959 (MIFF 1966, Programme 30)

Director: Alexei Batalov

First filmed in the days of the silent screen, by directors Kozintsev and Trauberg, Gogol's "The Overcoat" has since been adapted many times. It has been revived by Jack Clayton whose version was shown at an earlier Melbourne Festival; by Albert Lattuada for an Italian version, and by the French mime, Marcel Marceau, who gave it a unique screen interpretation. The new Russian screen version is by the well-known Soviet actor, Alexei Batalov, for whom this film is his debut as director.

It is winter in St. Petersburg, and the scene is austere. The silent palaces seem frozen in cold magnificence. A small pathetic-looking figure of a man is hurrying across the bridge above the snow-covered Neva, trying in vain to protect himself from the cold. This is Akakii Akakievich Bashmachkin. This scene conveys the theme of the film - a little man in a cold, indifferent and ruthless world.

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