Mark Donskoy

6.2 Maxim trilogy
6.6 The Rainbow (1943)
6.0 The Village Teacher (1947)
6.0 The Undefeated (1945)

Mark Donskoy, of Jewish descent, started out with avantgarde shorts but then co-directed by Mikhail Averbakh much more conventional movies like V Bolshom Gorode/ In the Big City (1928) and Tsena Cheloveka/ The Price of a Human Being (1929). Pesnia o Schaste/ The Song of Happiness (1934), co-directed with Vladimir Legoshin, was his first sound film, set among an ethnic group of the Volga region. Mark Donskoy's trilogy on Maxim Gorky (1938-40) marked the grandiose peak of the biopic genre. These films were a pretext for lovingly reconstructing the atmosphere of czarist Russia at the turn of the century and for exalting the dignity of man: Gorky's childhood, miserable and cruel, his nomadic adolescence grappling with the most disparate jobs, and the humanitarian militancy of the young intellectual, are the three phases into which the work is divided. The wandering allows Donskoy to illustrate ordinary life in detail, first in the countryside then in the city. The film teems with a sampling of humble commoners, portraited with their virtues and vices.

Raduga/ The Rainbow (1943), about a heroic woman partisan, based on Wanda Wasilewska’s novel,

Selskaya Uchitelnitsa/ The Village Teacher (1947), starring Vera Maretskaia as an old teacher who grew up under the czars and sees her pupils leave for another war of liberation,

Nepokorennye/ The Undefeated (1945), an adaptation of a Boris Gorbatov novel about the persecution of Jews and the Baby Yar massacre,

Donskoi, a loyal Stalinist, during the "Thaw" kept a low profile, directing only Gorky adaptations: Mat (1956) and (better) Foma Gordeev (1959), photographed by Margarita Pilikhina. He then wasted his talent in films about Lenin, such as Serdtse Materi/ Heart of a Mother (1966), Vernost Materi/ Devotion of a Mother (1967) and Nadezhda (1973).

Suprugi Orlovy/ The Spouses Orlov (1978) was yet another Gorky adaptation.

Donskoy was the most romantic of the socialist realists.

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