Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
In The Queen of Spades (1916) Hermann, a Russian military officer with a limited fortune, is fascinated when he hears the story of Countess Fedotovna, who won her fortune by playing three particular cards, the identity of which she refuses to reveal.
I’m trying to keep the plot vague as I recommend giving this one a look (once again YouTube came to my rescue as this one was impossible to find on streaming services), if just to see how talented the actors of the silent film era could be. Hermann (or German. I’m not sure because the name shows as German in the title cards) was played by a renowned actor for his time, Ivan Mozzhukhin. His ability to show all of the emotions and thoughts his character was having without the use of words was truly wondrous to behold. It’s said the best actors can convey complex emotions with just their eyes and Ivan definitely proves this to be true.
It also surprised me to learn, this wasn’t the first film adaptation of this short story (written by Aleksandr Pushkin) and there’s actually a much lauded version released earlier in 1910. But this 1916 tale of greed, obsession and psychological horror is considered on of the best films of the pre-revolutionary Russian era, and after watching it I can totally see why.
Beautiful costumes, great use of lighting and makeup to enhance the actors’ emotions (everyone has dark makeup around their eyes, as to make them appear more vivid on screen. Now you know where Batman picked it up) and techniques such as dissolves, flashbacks, jump cuts etc, that are all now standard fare in cinema, were used here in ways that were never seen before.
The Queen of Spades has also continued through the years to be remade, both for screen and stage, proving without a doubt you can never have too much of a good thing.
Sommer’s Score: 7 out of 10
You can watch the movie for yourself here:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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