Home Entertainment The Queen of Spades review – thrillingly addictive tale of gambling and sin

The Queen of Spades review – thrillingly addictive tale of gambling and sin

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Ambition, sin and horror are the keynotes of Thorold Dickinson’s good 1949 melodrama based mostly on the story by Pushkin. The density of visible element and incident on display screen is great and the swirling, delirious onrush of storytelling is addictive. That is certainly one of many nice playing films, and one which makes the theological connection express: Pascal advisable that you don’t have anything to lose by betting on God’s existence, however the worldly sinner gambles that the final judgement doesn’t exist and that pleasure and gratification on this life are all the things. Dickinson’s management of the display screen is a pleasure, one thing to be in comparison with Max Ophüls: I’m wondering how he may need directed The Earrings of Madame De… or how he may need tailored Dostoevsky’s The Gambler or Tolstoy’s How A lot Land Does a Man Want?

Anton Walbrook provides an excellent, gamey efficiency as Suvorin, a Russian army officer in St Petersburg. A humble captain intensely conscious of his lack of cash, Suvorin is obsessed, like a lot of modern Russia of the time, with France’s low-born chief Bonaparte, who rose to the highest with pure audacity and braveness. Walbrook seems with out the raffish moustache that he had for his well-known performances in Powell/Pressburger films comparable to The Purple Sneakers and The Life and Demise of Colonel Blimp, and his face is someway bare with out it, uncovered and determined. However his Austrian accent makes a sure form of sense: in Pushkin’s authentic story, his character was an ethnic German.

Suvorin frequently attends a dissolute army membership on the invitation of his good friend, the kindly, well-born brother officer Prince Andrei (Ronald Howard), who sympathises with Suvorin as a lonely, delicate, prickly soul. What fills Suvorin with grasping, envious fascination are the fortunes gained and misplaced there each night time at playing cards: an addictively easy sport known as faro, during which everyone seems to be superstitiously obsessive about the unhealthy luck concerned in enjoying the queen of spades.

Suvorin turns into electrified by the hearsay (although a flashback implies it’s significantly greater than a hearsay) that historic, haughty Countess Ranevskaya, thrillingly performed by Edith Evans, as soon as bought her soul to the satan to study the key of successful at faro; this was to recuperate her husband’s cash, which she had misplaced to a secret lover. Curiously, the nobleman who is meant to have brokered the encounter with the Prince of Darkness is a real-life determine: the Count of St Germain, a thinker and adventurer who appeared as if he may be French, with the identical darkish glamour of Napoleon, though in actual fact it seems he was from central Europe.

Crafty Suvorin plans to achieve entry to Countess Ranevskaya’s home by seducing the previous woman’s mild, impressionable companion, Lizaveta Ivanova (a sympathetic efficiency from Yvonne Mitchell), and so they have a murmuringly passionate encounter within the opera lobby. She can also be being courted by Andrei, whose respectable and diffident good nature isn’t any match for Suvorin’s brash desperation and fanaticism, which poor harmless Lizaveta errors for ardent ardour. That is in actual fact the a technique during which the lowborn Suvorin has the benefit over the aristocrat – and the movie permits us to see his self-destructive insanity in not appreciating a chance for happiness.

When the crazed Suvorin lastly comes head to head with the cantankerous previous woman, it’s a scene of pure worry: as Nietzsche may need mentioned, Suvorin is staring into the abyss and the abyss stares again. An exhilarating traditional.

Queen of Spades is launched on 23 December in cinemas, and on 23 January on digital platforms, Blu-Ray and DVD

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