Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Russian Mussorgsky was a prize winner at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival. Ostensibly a biopic of the titular composer, the film stars Alexander Borisov. Modest Mussorgsky's life is recounted not so much through events as through his music. Highlights include excerpted performances of such works as Boris Godunov, Song of the Flea and Khovanschina. The 2-hour film was lensed in the Soviet Magicolor process, which makes up in vibrancy what it lacks in consistency. Typical of its era, Mussorgsky adheres to the Party Line by showing the sympathy the protagonist extends towards the humble peasantry of Russia. The film was co-scripted and directed by Grigory Roshal, a former purveyor of "message" films who by and large stuck to pure entertainments in the 1950s; Roshal followed the film with another musical biography, Rimsky-Korsakov.