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IN THE TOWN OF ‘S'

USSR, 1967 (MIFF 1968, Programme 14)

Director: Josif Heifitz

In this small town, the home of the Turkin family is regarded as something of a source of culture. Dmitri Ionych Startsev, the local doctor, is a frequent visitor. He is devoted to Katya, young daughter of the Turkins, but she refuses his proposal of marriage and departs from the province. Startsev turns to his personal prosperity—his practice flourishes and his wealth increases— but his prospects for happiness do not improve when Katya returns. Time passes. The noble thoughts and aspirations that once occupied him are gradually forgotten. He appreciates the danger he is in, inwardly he despises the pettiness of the people around him, but he does nothing about it. Finally he becomes one of them.

This simple and tragic story records an observation that troubled Chekhov all his life—the deterioration of the intelligentsia in the stifling atmosphere of pre-revolutionary Russian towns. Director Heifitz previously made Chekhov's The Lady with the Little Dog: in his new film he has Chekhov himself appear to provide his thoughts on the consummation of human relations.

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