Russia Cinema The Legend of Till Ullenspiegel (1976)

The Legend of Till Ullenspiegel (1976)

Based on Charles De Coster’s novel La Légende et les Aventures héroïques, joyeuses et glorieuses d’Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak au pays de Flandres et ailleurs

Mosfilm, 1976

Directors: Alexander Alov, Vladimir Naumov

Screenplay: Alexander Alov, Vladimir Naumov

Cinematography: Valentin Zheleznyakov

Composer: Nikolai Karetnikov

Includes the music of Antonio Vivaldi

Cast: Lembit Ulfsak, Natalia Belokhvostikova, Yevgeny Leonov, Mikhail Ulyanov, Larisa Malevannaya, Alla Demidova, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Innokenty Smoktunovsky, Nikolai Gorlov, Nikolai Grabbe, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Yevgeny Yevstigneyev, Vadim Zakharchenko, Vladimir Kashpur, Igor Yasulovich, Juozas Budraitis, Vera Vasilyeva, Oleg Vidov, Elena Sanko, Yury Volyntsev

Awards: All-Union Film Festival 78 (Yerevan) – special jury prize for high artistic merits; prize for cinematography mastery; prize for high culture of artistic resolution

The film consists of two parts – Klaas’ Ashes and Long Live the Beggars! While including all the main events from Charles De Coster’s classical novel The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak, the film is, at the same time, an independent work, brilliantly demonstrating the talents of directors Alexander Alov and Vladimir Naumov.

The stylistics of the film are largely defined by the original source. The contrasting scenes create a heady mixture of boisterous, traditional farces, magical sunlit landscapes of the earth in full bloom, episodes of tragic pathos and the nightmarish tortures of the Inquisition. The directing embraces a whole host of subtle nuances, ranging from the philosophical-poetic to the psychological-dramatic and the tragic.

The authentic historical atmosphere recreated in the film, the pinpoint acting, the lavish sets and often unique costumes, the attention to prop details and the choice of setting – everything contributes to a picture of the daily life, surroundings and people encountered in Flanders and Spain in the sixteenth century.

The dynamic and temperamental directing of Alexander Alov and Vladimir Naumov corresponds perfectly to the emotional tone of the novel, conveyed in the actors’ wonderful expressions and positioning.

Big-scale production, an inventive approach to crowd scenes and subtle cast direction are all features of The Legend of Till Ullenspiegel.

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