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UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A MECHANICAL PIANO

USSR, 1977 (MIFF 1978)

Director: Nikita Mikhalkov

The film is based on Chekhov's early play, 'Platonov', and on some of his short stories. Director Nikita Mikhalkov has changed the ending of the play, in order to bring it more in line with the spirit of Chekhov's mature works. (He was seventeen when he wrote the play.)

Provincial society people are gathered on a lawn in front of a large country house. It is early summer. There is the widow of a general, a debonair doctor, the widow's honeymooning step-son, a capitalist (one of a new breed of enterprising, practical men), and a kindly, old landowner. The lightheaded mood is disrupted by the appearance of Mikhail Platonov.

He is a complex character, who escapes from his disillusionment about his lost ideals, compromises, and loveless marriage, into cynicism and shallow love affairs. When his first love, Sofia, appears on the scene, now married and also unhappy, Platonov comes to realise that he cannot continue his indolent life, based on so many deceptions.

Grand Prix, San Sebastian.

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