PIKOVAYA DAMA (1916)

Yakov Protazanov’s adaptation of Aleksandr Pushkin’s 1833 story is a powerful psychological melodrama following a young officer’s descent into madness.

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Film details

Alternative titles

  • PIKOVAIA DAMA Alternative
  • The QUEEN OF SPADES Alternative

Introduction

The obsessive German (Ivan Mosjoukine) attempts to discover a gambling secret – allegedly possessed by wealthy old Countess (Elizaveta Shebuyeva) – that will enable him to win at cards. His pursuit of wealth, however, leads only to despair.

Director Yakov Protazanov exploited all available technical devices to portray German’s detoriating mental state. One of the biggest box office sensations of the period, the film also derives much of its power from Mosjoukine’s intense performance.

German’s anxieties are evoked by imaginative tracking shots and sophisticated crosscutting. Flashbacks and split screen reveal his inner desires, and ghostly superimpositions and fades convey his paranoia and descent into insanity.

Protazanov’s 1918 films Little Ellie and Jenny the Maid further demonstrate his mastery of the psychological melodrama. For an earlier adaptation of Pushkin’s story, see Petr Chardynin’s 1910 film.

Cast & Credits

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