A friend of Gorki, Eisenstein's assistant, Civil War Red soldier: Mark Donskoi's extraordinary career spans a century of Russian history, and includes making the three famous Gorki films in the '30s which more recently influenced Bill Douglas in his own autobiographical trilogy. The Orlovs, taken from another Gorki story, is fashioned in the same style as his earlier films: a close Dickensian focus on everyday village life which pre-dates the later unacceptable face of Soviet Social Realism. The central couple are given the chance of transcending the general misery of their lives by working in a hospital during a cholera outbreak. She responds, he regresses, they part; a moral tale with its typical Gorkian emphasis on the necessity of striving for a better existence. Heartening to find a social vision of such clear-eyed optimism from a 78-year-old. CPea.