This is one of several film versions of the classic play by Anton Chekhov. The depressing tale of unrequited love begins when an aging actress Arkadina (Simone Signoret) and her arrogant writer companion Trigorin (James Mason) travel to a small Russian town to visit her brother, an ailing public official in retirement. Nina (Vanessa Redgrave) is the neighbor girl who falls for Trigorin. The simple country girl is degraded by the older, more worldly author as she follows him to the big city and falls victim to the debauchery of urban life. Arkadina also deals with a hateful son who is driven to suicide in this somber and depressing film. Although there are some moments of comedy in the play, this film version is decidedly more downbeat.
by Dan Pavlides synopsis