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Convicts

However involuntarily comic "Convicts" looks today, it was viewed as a straight prison tale when it came out in 1936. Based on scriptwriter Nikolai Pogodin's official play about how the gulag gently helps steer prisoners toward a happy, socially productive life, pic is an amazing piece of propaganda which it is hard to believe anyone swallowed whole even at the time.

However involuntarily comic “Convicts” looks today, it was viewed as a straight prison tale when it came out in 1936. Based on scriptwriter Nikolai Pogodin’s official play about how the gulag gently helps steer prisoners toward a happy, socially productive life, pic is an amazing piece of propaganda which it is hard to believe anyone swallowed whole even at the time.

A train full of convicts arrives in a gulag in Russia’s far north, where they are set to work building a canal. Though the prison warden is wise and caring, a dyed-in-the-wool crook (Mihail Astangov) and his ex-moll (Vera Yanukova, who was Eisenstein’s great love) take a long time to get into the spirit. (Historically, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly political prisoners, died in Stalin’s canal-building projects.) Director Evgeni Chervyakov is said to have shot the picture reluctantly, after the studio promised to let him direct a liberal pet project as a reward.

Convicts

Soviet Union - 1936

  • Production: A Mosfilm production.
  • Crew: Directed by Evgeni Chervyakov. Screenplay, Nikolai Pogodin, based on his play "Aristocrats." Camera (B&W), Mikhail Gindin, Boris Petrov; music, Yuri Shaporin; art directors, B. Knoblok, V. Panteleyev. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Soviet retro), Aug. 6, 2000. Original title: Zaklyuchonniye. Running time: 90 MIN.
  • With: <B>With:</B>Mihail Astangov, Aleksandr Cheban, Mikhail Yanshin, Boris Dobronravov, Vera Yanukova, Nadezhda Ermakovich.
  • Music By: