The Queen of Spades (1916)

The Queen of Spades Movie Review

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The Queen of Spades Movie Review

The Queen of Spades is a 1916 Russian silent film directed by Yakov Protazanov and starring Ivan Mosjoukine. It is a film that had great potential, but squandered it on an uneven execution.

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Play the three, the seven and the ace

in succession and you will win

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The Queen of Spades Movie Review

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Yes, the story here is phenomenal which is expected as it came straight from the mind of Aleksandr Pushkin. The premise is very intriguing and the mix of horror elements into the whole drama is quite interesting. Everything about that third act is terrific with the imagery being particularly memorable. The juxtaposition of the cards and memories into the shots was so well done and quite advanced for its time. The ghost scene is the highlight and the ending is so striking, again accompanied by some intriguing special effects.
But everything that came before that amazing third act is quite weak. The first two acts are so dull and uneventful that the idea of a build-up is stretched way too much here. I get that the film needed to have that build-up, but one act would have sufficed and the second act should have introduced the conflict with the third act being the conclusive one.

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The Queen of Spades Movie Review

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But the filmmakers behind The Queen of Spades apparently had no idea of a three-act structure. The editing is all over the place and the structure is horrible. That is why the first two acts were dull and the third one was so rushed. And I continually get frustrated with the movies which are so great on paper, yet in execution of the pacing, editing and structure they fail. This is one fine example of such a bad practice.
I liked the characters. The protagonist is memorable and the old lady is naturally the standout person here. The entire idea of having this old lady know what cards to play is quite fascinating and I absolutely loved how the main character came to know here as it was believably scripted. And of course the message is great.

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The Queen of Spades Movie Review

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Ivan Mosjoukine is so good here. This is my first time seeing him and I have to say that I instantly got why he was such a huge star in Russia during the 1910s. His looks are memorable, his acting is very good and his emphasized gestured bring a lot to the overall performance. He is very charismatic.
I guess the movie isn’t too short in length as this story did not need more than an hour of running time, but the pacing is so bad that it hurt it in the long run and even Yakov Protazanov’s direction is to blame as it isn’t as deft and polished as the film demanded.

The Queen of Spades has such a great premise, Ivan Mosjoukine is very charismatic and memorable in the lead role, the film is technically terrific with great imagery and the third act is intriguing, but the first two acts are too dull, the film’s structure and editing are quite mediocre and the direction should have been better leading to an unfortunately uneven film.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 1910s, 1916, Drama, Foreign, Russian, Silent and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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