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Kije may not exist...but the film about him DOES

Posted at 12:48 PM on November 6, 2008 by Fred Child


When I introduced a concert performance of Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite on Wednesday, I said Prokofiev wrote music for the film, but "the movie was never made."


Performance Today listener Albert Sanchez Moreno wrote in to say "the film most certainly did get made. It was released in 1934..."

And Albert is right.

Albert points to a detailed entry in the always handy (and usually reliable) internet movie database.

And digging a little further, evidence for the film's existence includes this entry in a Russian language film archive. (Po Ruski?)

This poster on the right, advertising the movie.

This 1934 review in the New York Times. (The film was released in the U.S. under the title "The Czar Wants to Sleep.")

Quoting from the Times:

This mildly amusing satire on czarism and all its works is based on the traditional incident of a non-existent Lieutenant Kidzhe...depicted by the Soviet players and the director in a way calculated to entertain lovers of detail and genuine atmosphere in semi-historical films...English titles explain the action to persons ignorant of Russian.

And best of all...this clip from the movie, with a familiar tune from Prokofiev's suite.

(Couldn't she at least have tried to pluck the strings?)

This would be lesson no. 47,000 in "don't trust what you find online." My apologies.

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