Don Quixote (1933)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Satire, Romantic Adventure  |   Release Date - May 25, 1933 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - France, United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Translating an epic novel such as Don Quixote to the screen is no easy task, and some Cervantes purists may carp at G.W. Pabst's decisions as to what to include and where. Most people, however, will be delighted with this powerful yet amusing adaptation. And while it may be heresy to some to move the legendary tilting at windmills sequence from early in the book to near the end of the picture, the truth is that in this particular instance, it works better. The book-burning ending, decried by many, is equally justifiable; it's not in the book, but it works beautifully onscreen (and had particular relevance at the time of the film's release, due to a recent rash of Nazi literary repression). Quixote benefits from its directors sure hand and even more so from his clear, dominating vision; the project clearly means a lot to him personally, and that connection fills every frame. Pabst is greatly aided by the dominating performance of Feodor Chaliapin, whose operatic presence is right at home with the larger-than-life Quixote. He's mesmerizing at all times, even when what he's doing is closer to grandstanding than acting. He gets fine support from George Robey and Renée Valliers, but it's Chaliapin who owns the film acting-wise. There are flaws, to be sure, including Jacques Ibert's controversial score; but on the whole, Quixote is a moving and exhilarating experience.