Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chess Fever (1925, Russia)

Original Title: 'Shakhmatnaya goryachka'
Script: Nikolai Shpikovsky
Cast: Vladimir Fogel, Anna Zemtsova, Boris Barnet, José Raúl Capablanca
With an international chess tournament in progress, a young man becomes completely obsessed with the game. His fiancée has no interest in it, and becomes frustrated and depressed by his neglect of her, but wherever she goes she finds that she cannot escape chess. On the brink of giving up, she meets the world champion, Capablanca himself, with interesting results. (
Though not his first film, Russian director/cinema theorist V. I. Pudovkin's 'Chess Fever' was the first to be released. Essentially a comedy, this 2-reel exercise in montage manages to make the game of chess seem thoroughly cinematic. Illustrating his theory that "The foundation of film art is editing", Pudovkin uses apparently unrelated images to fashion a smooth, well-integrated unified whole. He goes so far as to rabbet in shots of legendary chess master José Raúl Capablanca so that his film will have a 'star'.
Other grandmasters to be seen in this movie: Ernst Grünfeld, Frederick Yates, Frank Marshall, Richard Réti, Rudolf Spielmann and Carlos Torre (all playing in the 1925 Moscow International Tournament ).
00:40 At the tournament
02:25 In the days of the chess fever
04:39 − Remember, my darling, the most dangerous thing for the family life is... chess!
04:57 On the signboard is written "Chessplayer, stop here!"
05:50 On the wall-advert is written "Chess Tournament"
10:02 − I loved only you...
10:09 − And you love only chess!
10:16 − Between us all is finished!
10:29 − I will poison myself...
10:34 − I surrender. I will drown myself!
11:07 − Grandfather, my life is broken!
11:20 − My child, take the source of consolation and peace.
11:31 The title of the book is 'Pleasure of the sage. Anthology of the most antique chess problems'
11:43 Late wishes
12:12 − Kolecka has just played such a fine Queen's Gambit... I can't breathe!
12:26 There is no place in life
13:11 Pharmacy
13:28 − Give me something in big quantity and strong against pain.
14:09 Maybe love is stronger than chess?
15:14 Maybe love is stronger than chess?
15:29 Back to the fiancée
16:10 − Leave me alone! Because of chess I hate all the world...
16:19 − I understand this feeling. When I meet a beautiful woman, I also hate chess.
16:34 − Finally I meet a chess enemy!
16:41 − Tell me how you saved yourself from chess fever...
17:06 On the wall-advert is written "International Chess Tournament"
17:14 − I give a final look, and then ... that's all!
17:22 At the tournament
17:33 − Pass! Pass!
18:05 Here are the effects of the Champion's narrations
18:18 − Darling, darling! I didn't know it is such a wonderful game!
18:33 − Darling, let's play a Sicilian...
18:53 The family happiness begins!

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