In 1925, José Capablanca, the world chess champion at the time, takes on challengers in major public championships in Moscow, and the chess-mad city lines up to see him. One young chess fanatic even deliberately misses his wedding, causing his wife to leave him in despair. Only one person can change things for the better. And the world champion obviously does exactly what the tournament audience, his fellow players and, above all, the spectators, expect of him … And all around, a charming atmosphere and a sense of fairness prevail. Elegant, extremely funny and with close links between real scenes at the chess tournament in a Moscow theatre and the foreign guest: plus a charming love-story taken from daily life in Moscow. The turbulent action is combined with episodes about chess matches and players, thus creating a stylistically sound interlinking of both game and reality. A well-rounded, cohesive and entertaining film, especially since authentic contemporary chess masters and prominent protagonists of the film studio – some working as extras among the tournament audience – were also involved. And on top of this, the highly atmospheric documentary photographs of street life in “old” Moscow.
Print courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York
UDSSR 1925, 27 min
Wsewolod Pudowkin, Nikolai Schpikowski