Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Lilacs - Russian director Pavel Lounguine's lavish and extravagant treatment of the life of Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) - is so heavily fictionalized that it displays not one but two disclaimers at the outset, asserting that it bears no direct relationship to historical facts. The film stars Yevgeny Tsyganov as the chronically ill-tempered Russian composer. Lounguine cuts between episodes from two key periods in Rachmaninov's life; in one substory, he rises to celebrity in late 19th century Russia after being tutored as a prodigy under the aegis of teacher Zverev (Alexei Petrenko). The latter discourages his protégé by making an unsuccessful attempt to clamp down on the youngster's desire to compose then-unfashionable Romantic compositions. In the other, Rachmaninov - preparing to enter middle age - tours the United States during the first half of the 20th century, conducting recitals. He crumbles under the weight of his premier symphony when a drunken maestro brings it crashing to the ground, then must contend with a seemingly endless string of dysfunctional relationships, including ill-advised passions for prostitute Anna (Victoria Isakova), Communist student Mariana (Miriam Sekhon) and Natalya (Victoria Tolstoganova) - a woman he later marries. Rachmaninov then makes an unsuccessful attempt to return to Russia only to find that the rise of the Communist state (with Lenin at the helm) makes this impossible; he instead spends the remaining years of his life unsatisfactorily touring the U.S. but growing ever more grumpy, exhausted and dissatisfied with life.
composer, protegé, Romanticism, Russia