Uncle Vanya (1970)

  • Year: 1970
  • Released: 01 Oct 1970
  • Country: Soviet Union
  • Adwords: 3 wins & 2 nominations
  • IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065671/
  • Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/uncle_vanya
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Russian
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Drama
  • Runtime: 104 min
  • Writer: Anton Chekhov, Andrey Konchalovskiy
  • Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy
  • Cast: Irina Anisimova-Wulf, Sergey Bondarchuk, Irina Kupchenko
  • Keywords: faith, based on play or musical, love, fate,

Uncle Vanya Storyline

A retired professor has returned to his estate to live with his beautiful young wife, Yelena. The estate originally belonged to his first wife, now deceased; her mother and brother still live there and manage the farm. For many years the brother (Uncle Vanya) has sent the farm’s proceeds to the professor, while receiving only a small salary himself. Sonya, the professor’s daughter, who is about the same age as his new wife, also lives on the estate. The professor is pompous, vain, and irritable. He calls the doctor (Astrov) to treat his gout, only to send him away without seeing him. Astrov is an experienced physician who performs his job conscientiously, but has lost all idealism and spends much of his time drinking. The presence of Yelena introduces a bit of sexual tension into the household. Astrov and Uncle Vanya both fall in love with Yelena; she spurns them both. Meanwhile, Sonya is in love with Astrov, who fails even to notice her. Finally, when the professor announces he wants to sell the estate, Vanya, whose admiration for the man died with his sister, tries to kill him.—Appelsla

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Uncle Vanya Movie Reviews

A beautiful and loyal interpretation of Chekhov’s masterpiece.

Andrei Konhcalovsky sets a beautiful and nostalgic mood for this classic Russian text. An ode to the decadence and laziness of the dying Russian gentry, the film is appropriately staged in a large run-down house in the country. There is a palpable feeling of decay not only in the dialogue and the characters, but also in the peeling paint, the washed out colors that the camera picks up, the dim lighting, and the dirty clothes that the characters wear. The actors are quite loyal to the subtlety that Chekhov demands for his characters emotions. They avoid melodrama, but at the same time do not leave the audience feeling oblique and distanced as is often the case with adaptations of Chekhov.

This film is a must see for any admirer of Chekhov, and is also a pivotal film in the history of modern Russian/Soviet cinema. Apart from that it should be required viewing for any one interested in the sincere portrayal of very difficult emotions in cinema. Although formalistically different, it ranks with the best work of Andrei Tarkovsky or Ingmar Bergman.

An obscure masterpiece

An inspired transposition of the play by Chekov, it is difficult to imagine it being ever excelled; everything seems right, natural, credible, allowing one to concentrate on the inner drama of the characters. A masterpiece of discreet eloquence which ought to be better known.

The best version…

I remember seeing this film in 1973 at the Royal Theater in L.A. I traveled for two hours on a bus to see it, and two hours to return home, and I never regretted the time spent. Bondarchuk as Astrov was brilliant, and the diluted Mosfilm color–which emphasized browns, reds, and golds–was perfect. I think this movie captures autumn better than any motion picture. Unlike the English language versions of the play, this one also emphasizes how the environment affects the characters. I dearly wish it would get released on either video or DVD. It’s easily the best version of Chekhov’s play—maybe the best film version of any of his plays.