1990 / USSR, Italy / 200 min / 2 parts / Cinefine Ltd (Italy), Mosfilm
Director – Gleb Panfilov
Inna Churikova – Nilovna
Format – 35 mm / DVD
For information about rights for theatrical and DVD distribution please contact “Vera Films”
The social ferment in late 19th century Russia which led to the 1917 Russian Revolution is movingly portrayed in this lengthy historical drama, which is very faithful to the 1907 novel The Mother by the celebrated Marxist writer Maxim Gorky (1868-1936). In the story, «the mother» (Inna Tchourikova) has no other recourse than to watch her decent, kindly husband turn into an animalistic, drunken brute as a result of working in the inhuman conditions of a steel mill in the town of Sormovo. When he begins to express his suppressed rage by beating her, she is defended by her teenaged son Pavel (depicted Viktor Rakov as an adult, Sacha Chichonok as a boy). After his father’s death, Pavel is forced to go to work in the same factory. However, Pavel and his friends begin investigating Marxism and socialist thought, and work to organize their fellow workers. One of them becomes a police informer, and when the friends discover this, they force him to commit suicide. Later, when Pavel is captured by the police, he pretends to be willing to inform on his group as well, but this is a ruse, and he leads demonstrations against the ownership of the factory. Meanwhile, Pavel’s mother has gotten involved in the cause in small way. When the socialist cell Pavel belongs to is taken away to trial, they are sentenced to a prison term in Siberia, and he makes a fiery pro-socialist speech from the train platform as he is being shipped away.
— Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide
“ Panfilov’s film is important not only for our cultural but also for the social life. It can have a considerable effect on peoples’ minds in these critical for our country months. It can inspire and give strength to many.
The film speaks about the deep rooted reasons for a historical and moral catastrophe which started with a daring attempt to create God’s Kingdom on Earth. It gives no concrete answers. No recipes. This film is at once elitist and widely accessible.
Is it a politician film? Of course, it is! But in the first place, it is a creation of a Master about the eternal human values. That’s what makes it relevant today”
— Yuri Ratner, “Sochi” Newspaper, n77, 1991
“ Mother (based on a collection of Gorky’s plays, 1990 Cannes award), is the most fundamental work by Panfilov, who turns to the epic genre for the fist time. The director presents the Russian Revolution as a tragedy, and Pavel Vlasov and his mother as tragic heroes”
— Fedor Razzakov, “Dossier on the stars”, Exmo-press, 1999.
“[…] Perestroika added a new ‘ad asurdum’ motive to the director’s choice. Famous for his determination to fight against the circumstances, Panfilov refused to follow the trend when it miraculously changed. He was one of the first to sense the awkwardness of a widespread euphoria about the current state of affairs, according to which anything that was somehow related to the tradition of Socialist Realism was considered as bad taste […]”
— Andrei Plakhov, “Nostalgia for the grand style”, “Art of Cinema”, 1990, N.11
Creators about the film
Gleb Panfiov – director
“[…]I would not say that Mother is an adaptation, it is more a new piece, inspired by several works of Gorky. This is how I feel, how I understand, how I speak, and how I made the film. The writer explained a lot, he gave us a lot of food for thought. From a contemporary point of view, we can see most clearly the routes on which our history moves. In Gorsky’s works I can see the outline of founding routes, which were acutely perceived and recreated by the writer. Their relevance today, at the turn of the century, allows us to analyse and compare the original intent with the final outcome”
“Mother is about our contemporary life too. We’ve returned to where we were in the beginning of last century – a society with colossal divide between the poor and the wealthy.”
Inna Churikova — actress
“Panfilov’s film Mother, where I play the leading part, was misunderstood by many. The book, that we were forced to read in school, evoked dislike, rather than understanding. Despite the fact, Gleb Panfilov envisaged this film as a story about the first dissidents in Russia and has demonstrated that the masses were actually against the main character.”