WriterFedor Ozep, Nikolai Efros, Leo Tolstoy Release date31 October 1922 CastIvan Moskvin, Varvara Massalitinova, Vera Pashennaya Music directorAlexander Arkhangelsky, Issay Dobrowen Similar moviesFedor Ozep wrote the screenplay for Polikushka and directed Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff
Polikushka (Russian: Поликушка) is a 1922 Soviet drama film directed by Alexander Sanin, based on Leo Tolstoy's story of the same title. It features the famous Moscow Art Theatre actor Ivan Moskvin in his first on-screen role. The filming was completed in 1919 but the release was delayed till 1922 because of the Russian Civil War.
Peasant Polikushka is as Tolstoy described him, "an insignificant man and a little flyblown", he is good-natured but weak-willed. He spends most of his time in a tavern, but can not find a meeting among minds even among the other regulars. He commits petty theft to buy vodka.
Once he is summoned to a manor house and is charged to go to the city to bring money. Polikushka receives an opportunity for the first time to "demonstrate himself" and intends to make the most out of this opportunity. He feels that this could be the beginning of a new life for him.
Arriving in the city Polikushka receives an envelope with the money which becomes a source of constant worry for him – he is terribly afraid that something happens to the envelope. In the end he hides it in his hat and goes back to the village. As he is lulled to sleep by the wagon's rocking the cap slides from his head with the envelope falling to the wayside. Polikushka dreams that he gloriously enters the mistress's house, gives over the envelope, receives thanks and the reward, and becomes elevated in his own eyes.
Waking up Polikushka detects the loss of the envelope and is gravely dejected. He ambles down the road in search of his loss but to no avail. Polikushka falls into deep despair. Returning home he takes the rope from the child's cot and hiding from his wife goes up to the attic and hangs himself.
Ivan Moskvin - Polikushka
Vera Pashennaya - Akulina, Polikushka's wife
Yevgeniya Rayevskaya - The Lady
Varvara Bulgakova - The Lady's niece
Sergey Aydarov - Steward
Dmitri Gundurov - The gardener
Sergei Golovin - Dutlov
A. Istomin - Ilyukha
Nikolai Znamenskiy - Alyokha
Varvara Massalitinova - The joiner's wife
Nikolai Kostromskoy - Barman
The film was Ivan Moskvin's film debut and he had to readjust his overly theatrical acting style to a more realistic and reserved manner.
Filming was done in a difficult period when there was a severe shortage of film stock. Reshoots were done only in exceptional circumstances.
Moskvin's naturalist acting was praised by many critics.